Effects of a peer modelling and rewards-based intervention to increase fruit and vegetable consumption in children

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2004 Mar;58(3):510-22. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1601838.


Objective: To measure children's consumption of, and liking for, fruit and vegetables and how these are altered by a peer modelling and rewards-based intervention.

Design: In this initial evaluation of the programme, children's consumption of fruit and vegetables were compared within and across baseline and intervention phases.

Setting: Three primary schools in England and Wales.

Subjects: In total, 402 children, aged from 4 to 11 y.

Intervention: Over 16 days, children watched six video adventures featuring heroic peers (the Food Dudes) who enjoy eating fruit and vegetables, and received small rewards for eating these foods themselves.

Main outcome measures: Fruit and vegetable consumption was measured (i) in school at lunchtime and snacktime using a five-point observation scale, with inter-rated reliability and weighed validation tests; and (ii) at home using parental recall. A questionnaire measured children's liking for fruit and vegetables before and after the intervention.

Results: Consumption during the intervention was significantly higher than during baseline at lunchtime and at snacktime (P<0.001 in all instances). Consumption outside school was significantly higher during the intervention on weekdays (P<0.05) but not weekend days. Following the intervention, children's liking for fruit and vegetables also showed a significant increase (P<0.001).

Conclusions: The peer modelling and rewards-based intervention was shown to be effective in bringing about substantial increases in children's consumption of, and expressed liking for, fruit and vegetables.

Sponsorship: : Horticultural Development Council, Fresh Produce Consortium, ASDA, Co-operative Group, Safeway, Sainsbury, Somerfield, Tesco and Birds Eye Wall's.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Child Nutrition Sciences / education*
  • Child, Preschool
  • England
  • Female
  • Food Preferences / psychology*
  • Fruit*
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Education
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice*
  • Health Promotion
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parents / education
  • Peer Group*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Schools
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Vegetables*
  • Wales