OBJECTIVE: To describe and compare fruit and vegetable intakes of mothers of 11-year-old children across Europe. METHODS: Cross-sectional surveys were carried out in 9 European countries in October/November 2003. Self-administered questionnaires assessing fruit and vegetable consumption were used for data collection. The current paper presents dietary intake data obtained by a precoded 24-hour recall and a food frequency questionnaire. RESULTS: The consumption levels of fruit and vegetables (without fruit juice) were in line with World Health Organization recommendations of > or =400 g/day for only 27% of all participating mothers. Based on both instruments, the Pro Children results showed comparatively high average fruit intake levels in Portugal, Denmark and Sweden (211, 203 and 194 g/day) and the lowest intake in Iceland (97 g/day). High vegetable intake levels were found in Portugal and Belgium (169 and 150 g/day), the lowest in Spain (88 g/day). A south-north gradient could not be observed in the Pro Children study. CONCLUSION: Fruit and vegetable intakes are low in mothers of 11-year-olds across Europe. Especially vegetable consumption can be regarded as marginal in most of the studied European countries. A high percentage of mothers indicated to eat fruit and vegetables less than once a day. The results have shown that national and international interventions are necessary to promote fruit and especially vegetable consumption in the European population of mothers.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: The Pro Children Project was designed to assess fruit and vegetable consumption in European schoolchildren and their parents, as well as determinants of the children's consumption patterns. A second objective was to develop and test strategies, applicable across Europe, for promoting consumption of fruits and vegetables among schoolchildren and their parents. In this paper, the rationale, theoretical background, overall design and implementation of the project is presented. METHODS: Surveys of national, representative samples of 11-year-old schoolchildren and their parents were conducted in 9 countries, i.e. in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. Comprehensive school-based educational programmes have been developed and tested in three settings, i.e. in Spain, the Netherlands and in Norway. A precoded 24-hour recall form combined with a set of food frequency questions assessing regular intake were used to assess fruit and vegetable consumption. Determinants were assessed employing a comprehensive theoretical framework including personal, social and environmental factors related to fruit and vegetable consumption. The intervention programmes have been tested employing a group-randomized trial design where schools have been randomly allocated to an intervention arm and a delayed intervention arm. Surveys among all participating children and their parents were conducted prior to the initiation of the intervention, immediately after the end of the intervention and at the end of the subsequent school year. CONCLUSION: The project is expected to provide new information of great importance for improving our understanding of consumption patterns of fruits and vegetables and for guiding future efforts to promote increased consumption patterns across Europe.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: Validity and reproducibility were evaluated of a new questionnaire to assess fruit and vegetable intakes in 11- to 12-year-old children. METHODS: The precoded teacher-assisted self-administered questionnaire included two sections: a 24-hour recall part and a food frequency part. Validity was tested in 4 countries (Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Portugal; n = 43-60 per country) using a 1-day weighed food record and 7-day food records as reference methods. Test-retest (7-12 days apart) reproducibility was assessed in 6 countries (Belgium, Denmark, Iceland, Norway, Portugal, Spain; n = 60-74 per country). RESULTS: Spearman rank correlations for fruit and vegetable intake according to the frequency part and the 7-day food record ranged between r = 0.40-0.53. Between 25-50% were classified into the same quartile and 70-88% into the same or adjacent quartile. Test-retest Spearman rank correlations for the food frequency part were r = 0.47-0.84. Three countries showed no significant difference between fruit intake as assessed with the 24-hour recall part and the 1-day weighed food record, and 2 countries showed no significant difference for vegetables. In the other countries, the 24-hour recall part resulted in substantially higher mean intake levels. CONCLUSION: Validity and reproducibility as to ranking of subjects were regarded to be satisfactory in all countries. Group mean intake, based on the original 24-hour part, was valid for fruit in 3 countries and for vegetables in 2 countries, and this part was subsequently adjusted to avoid overestimation, before the questionnaire was used in the Pro Children study.