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.
We examined whether there are sex differences in children's fruit and vegetable (FV) intake and in descriptive norms (i.e. perceived FV intake) related to parents and friends. We also studied whether friends' impact is as important as that of parents on children's FV intake. Data from the PRO GREENS project in Finland were obtained from 424 children at the age 11 years at baseline. At baseline, 2009 children filled in a questionnaire about descriptive norms conceptualised as perceived FV intake of their parents and friends. They also filled in a validated FFQ that assessed their FV intake both at baseline and in the follow-up in 2010. The associations were examined with multi-level regression analyses with multi-group comparisons. Girls reported higher perceived FV intake of friends and higher own fruit intake at baseline, compared with boys, and higher vegetable intake both at baseline and in the follow-up. Perceived FV intake of parents and friends was positively associated with both girls' and boys' FV intake in both study years. The impact of perceived fruit intake of the mother was stronger among boys. The change in children's FV intake was affected only by perceived FV intake of father and friends. No large sex differences in descriptive norms were found, but the impact of friends on children's FV intake can generally be considered as important as that of parents. Future interventions could benefit from taking into account friends' impact as role models on children's FV intake.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: An adequate fruit and vegetable intake provides essential nutrients and nutritive compounds and is considered an important part of a healthy lifestyle. No simple instrument has been available for the assessment of fruit and vegetable intake as well as its determinants in school-aged children applicable in different European countries. Within the Pro Children Project, such an instrument has been developed. This paper describes the cross-sectional survey in 11-year-olds in 9 countries. METHODS: The cross-sectional survey used nationally, and in 2 countries regionally, representative samples of schools and classes. The questionnaires, including a precoded 24-hour recall component and a food frequency part, were completed in the classroom. Data were treated using common syntax files for portion sizes and for merging of vegetable types into four subgroups. RESULTS: The results show that the fruit and vegetable intake in amounts and choice were highly diverse in the 9 participating countries. Vegetable intake was in general lower than fruit intake, boys consumed less fruit and vegetables than girls did. The highest total intake according to the 24-hour recall was found in Austria and Portugal, the lowest in Spain and Iceland. CONCLUSION: The fruit and vegetable intake in 11-year-old children was in all countries far from reaching population goals and food-based dietary guidelines on national and international levels.
Little is known about the mediating effects of the determinants of fruit and vegetable (FV) intake in school-based interventions that promote FV intake, and few studies have examined the impact of the degree of implementation on the effects of an intervention. The present study examined whether the degree of implementation of an intervention had an effect on children's fruit or vegetable intake and determined possible mediators of this effect. The study is part of the European PRO GREENS intervention study which aimed to develop effective strategies to promote consumption of fruit and vegetables in schoolchildren across Europe. Data from 727 Finnish children aged 11 years were used. The baseline study was conducted in spring 2009 and the follow-up study 12 months later. The intervention was conducted during the school year 2009-2010. The effects were examined using multilevel mediation analyses. A high degree of implementation of the intervention had an effect on children's fruit intake. Knowledge of recommendations for FV intake and liking mediated the association between a high degree of implementation of the intervention and an increase in the frequency of fruit intake. Knowledge of recommendations for FV intake and bringing fruits to school as a snack mediated the association between a low degree of implementation of the intervention and an increase in the frequency of fruit intake. Overall, the model accounted for 34 % of the variance in the change in fruit intake frequency. Knowledge of recommendations acted as a mediator between the degree of implementation of the intervention and the change in vegetable intake frequency. In conclusion, the degree of implementation had an effect on fruit intake, and thus in future intervention studies the actual degree of implementation of interventions should be assessed when considering the effects of interventions.
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.