Effectiveness was evaluated for a fruit and vegetable program developed to encourage Canadian elementary school children to eat the recommended number of daily servings. Also examined was whether the program modified children's personal factors, perceived social environment, and perceived physical environment.
A prospective, quasi-experimental trial was conducted to compare the eight schools receiving the intervention curriculum (Freggie Friday schools [FFS]) with six control schools (CS). A food frequency questionnaire was used to measure differences in fruit and vegetable consumption. Personal factors, perceived social environment, and perceived physical environment supporting fruit and vegetable consumption were assessed with an adapted version of the validated Pro Children study questionnaire.
Of the 942 children who completed the baseline assessment, 807 also completed the follow-up questionnaire (FFS, 450; CS, 357). A mixed-effects regression model indicated no significant intervention effects on fruit or vegetable consumption, snack food consumption, or knowledge or attitudes related to fruit and vegetable consumption.
The results suggest that an intervention based on a single visit from an external group, followed by teacher-led programming, may be an ineffective method of eliciting dietary behaviour change in this population. Future programs may need to implement multicomponent intervention designs.
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.