Effects of a comprehensive fruit- and vegetable-promoting school-based intervention in three European countries: The Pro Children Study
The objective of the present study was to evaluate the effects of the Pro Children intervention on schoolchildren's fruit and vegetable (FV) intake after 1 and 2 years of follow-up. The intervention combined a FV curriculum with efforts to improve FV availability at schools and at home. Effects were examined in a group-randomised trial among 1472 10-11-year-old children from sixty-two schools in Norway, the Netherlands and Spain. FV intake was assessed by means of validated self-administered questionnaires completed before the intervention (September 2003), immediately after the first year of the intervention (May 2004) and 1 year later (May 2005). Data were analysed using multilevel linear regression analyses with age and sex as covariates. Significant intervention effects for FV intake were found at first follow-up in the total sample. The adjusted FV intake reported by the children from intervention schools was 20% higher than FV intake reported by children from control schools. At 1 year later, a significant impact was only observed in Norway. Positive intervention effects on FV intake occurred both at school and outside school. We conclude that the Pro Children intervention is a promising means to promote European schoolchildren's FV intakes, but mainly fruit intake, in the short term. As shown in Norway, where the intervention was best implemented, the intervention might also result in longer-term effects. Further strategies need to be developed that can improve implementation, have an impact on vegetable intake and can secure sustained effects.