Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Differences in fruit and vegetable intake among Dutch schoolchildren between 2003 and 2009

Fruit and vegetable (FV) intake in children in the Netherlands is much lower than recommended. Recurrent appraisal of intake levels is important for detecting changes in intake over time and to inform future interventions and policies. The aim of a study recently published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition & Physical Activity was to investigate differences in fruit and vegetable intake, and whether these could be explained by differences in potential determinants of FV intake in 11-year-old Dutch schoolchildren, by comparing two school samples assessed in 2003 and 2009 in tow European Commission funded projects, i.e. the Pro Children and Pro Greens projects. In 2009, more children complied with the World Health Organization recommendation of 400g fruit and vegetables per day (17.0%) than in 2003 (11.8%). This difference was mainly explained by a difference in the parental demand regarding their child's intake, by differences in children's knowledge of recommended fruit intake levels and by whether parents faciliated their child's fruit intake. Vegetable intake was lower in the 2009 sample than in the 2003 sample but this difference could not be explained by the assessed mediators. The findings indicate that fruit intake among 11-year-olds improved somewhat between 2003 and 2009. Vegetable intake, however, appears to have declined somewhat between 2003 and 2009. Since a better knowledge of the recommendation, parental demand and facilitation explained most of the observed fruit consumption difference, future interventions may specifically address these potential mediators.