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.
To explore how the quality of school lunch consumed reflected overall eating patterns in school-aged children.
Children filled in an Internet-based questionnaire about their eating patterns. The children were then divided into balanced and imbalanced school lunch eaters on the basis of their responses in the questionnaire. A balanced school lunch consisted of, by the definition used in the present study, a main dish, salad and bread.
Eleven primary schools and one middle school in eastern Finland.
A total of 531 schoolchildren (247 boys and 284 girls) aged 11-16 years.
The school lunch was balanced in 46·5% of children. Eating a balanced school lunch was associated with overall healthier eating patterns outside school. Children who ate a balanced school lunch had more regular meal times and consumed healthier snacks. They ate fruit or berries and vegetables, dairy products and wholegrain foods more often, consumed fewer salty snacks, pizzas, meat pies and drank fewer soft drinks and energy drinks. Their eating patterns at home were also healthier, with vegetables being offered at every family dinner and fruit being offered daily, whereas soft drinks were offered seldom.
The choices made by children in their school lunch reflect the overall eating patterns among school-aged children. Eating a balanced school lunch is associated with more regular meal patterns, the availability of healthier foods at home and an overall healthier diet, suggesting that healthy eating patterns are learnt at home.