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: 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.
BACKGROUND/AIMS: The importance of careful theory-based intervention planning is recognized for fruit and vegetable promotion. This paper describes the application of the Intervention Mapping (IM) protocol to develop the Pro Children intervention to promote consumption of fruit and vegetable among 10- to 13-year-old schoolchildren. METHODS: Based on a needs assessment, promotion of intake of fruit and vegetable was split into performance objectives and related personal, social and environmental determinants. Crossing the performance objectives with related important and changeable determinants resulted in a matrix of learning and change objectives for which appropriate educational strategies were identified. Theoretically similar but culturally relevant interventions were designed, implemented and evaluated in Norway, the Netherlands and Spain during 2 school years. RESULTS: Programme activities included provision of fruits and vegetables in the schools, guided classroom activities, computer-tailored feedback and advice for children, and activities to be completed at home with the family. Additionally, optional intervention components for community reinforcement included incorporation of mass media, school health services or grocery stores. School project committees were supported. CONCLUSION: The Pro Children intervention was carefully developed based on the IM protocol that resulted in a comprehensive school-based fruit and vegetable promotion programme, but culturally sensible and locally relevant.
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.