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.