Effect of a fruit and vegetable subscription in Danish schools

Public Health Nutr. 2003 Feb;6(1):57-63. doi: 10.1079/PHN2002356.


Objective: To measure the effect of a school fruit and vegetable subscription on children's intake of fruit and vegetables after 5 weeks of intervention.

Setting: Seven primary schools in Denmark.

Design and methods: Intervention schools (n=4) were offered a fruit and vegetable subscription comprising one piece per day. Control schools situated in another municipality were not offered the subscription. Intake of fruit and vegetables was measured at baseline and 5 weeks after the start of the subscription. Two methods were used for dietary assessment: a pre-coded 24-hour recall form including total food intake and a food-frequency questionnaire (FFQ) including only fruit and vegetables.

Subjects: Children aged 6-10 years (n=804 from intervention schools and n=689 from control schools). Response rate in the dietary assessment was 31%.

Results: At intervention schools 45% of the children enrolled in the subscription. After 5 weeks of intervention, both subscribers and non-subscribers had increased their intake of fruit by 0.4 (P=0.019) and 0.3 (P=0.008) pieces per school day, respectively, but no change was observed in vegetable intake. Total intake increased only for non-subscribers by 0.4 piece/school day (P=0.008) mainly due to the consistent increase in fruit intake. No change in intake was measured at control schools. Only the 24-hour recall questionnaire was sensitive enough to pick up the changes of the subscription, whereas the FFQ was not.

Conclusion: Five weeks with the subscription affected both subscribers and non-subscribers to increase intake of fruit. This may indicate that the subscription had an additional effect of stimulating parents of non-subscribers to supply their children with fruit. The results stress the importance of evaluating the effect of this type of programme, and the carefulness needed in designing the evaluation study.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Denmark
  • Diet*
  • Eating*
  • Female
  • Food Services
  • Fruit*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Recall
  • Nutrition Assessment
  • Schools
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vegetables*