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School-Based Programs Encourage Kids to Eat Vegetables

A study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition reports that school-based nutrition programs which encourage children to eat more fruits and vegetables have been somewhat successful. Charlotte Evans, author and nutrition researcher at the University of Leeds in the UK, believes that although the results showed that the children ate just a little more fruits than vegetables, the good health habits they acquire during childhood may be carried through adulthood.

The study involved 21 school-based programs which included about 900 students per study, who were aged 5-12 years old. The programs included various strategies which ranged from simple approaches like giving away free fruits and vegetables at school, to more complex programs that influenced food marketing in school and home-based interventions.

The improvements in fruit and vegetable intake were modest – they recorded an average increase of 25% in fruit intake while the increase in vegetable intake was just 10%. The author admits that it is not clear whether these changes have any significant benefit in over-all health, but she says that even small improvements may be beneficial over a long time.

For school-aged children the U.S. Department of Agriculture recommends eating 1-1 ½ cups of fruit per day, which is equivalent to one apple or banana a day. Kids are also urged to eat 1 ½ – 2 ½ cups of vegetables daily, where one cup is equivalent to a large ear of corn or 2 carrots.

Gary Foster, director of the Center for Obesity Research and Education at Temple University in Philadelphia (not included in the study), believes that the consequence of these programs would be to reduce obesity, although they would have more impact if they targeted childhood obesity rather than consuming certain food groups.



Grens, K. Fruit and vegetable school programs help a little.


Posted in: Appetite Control, Diet, Disease Prevention, Healthy Eating, Kid's Health, Meal Preparation, News Briefs, Nutrition, Obesity, Parenting, Teenage Health

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