Friday, January 15, 2010

Combining education with school environment changes appears effective for healthy diet promotion in school-aged children

A recent systematic review publiced by Eveline de Cauwenberghe and colleagues in British Journal of Nutrition clearly indicates that nutrition education only or only modifying the school environment (e.g. by making healthy oprion better available or accessible) may have some effects on more healthful eating among the children, but the evidence for an effect of a combination of both strategies was much stronger, especially for promotion of fruit and vegetable intakes.

Twenty-nine studies conducted in countries of the European Union among children were identified that met the inclusion criteria. Strong evidence of effect was found for multicomponent interventions on fruit and vegetable intakes, while limited evidence of effect was found for educational interventions on behaviour, and for environmental interventions on fruit and vegetable intakes. Interventions that specifically targeted children from lower socio-economic status groups showed limited evidence of effect on behaviour. Effects on anthropometrics were often not measured, and therefore evidence was lacking whether the intervention also influenced body size or composition.

Fewer studies among adolescents were identified, and the evidence for that important target group was less clear.

This review study is part of the Health promotion through Obesity Prevention across Europe (HOPE) project.