Background: People with schizophrenia make poor dietary choices.
Aims: To measure the impact of giving free fruit and vegetables for 6 months on eating habits in schizophrenia.
Method: We randomly allocated 102 people with schizophrenia in two areas of Scotland to receive free fruit and vegetables for 6 months, supported by instruction in meal planning and food preparation; free fruit and vegetables alone; or to continue as before. Diet was assessed using the Scottish Health Survey questionnaire. Blood samples to measure micronutrients were taken and mental state, body mass index, level of physical activity and future risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) were assessed.
Results: After the intervention, those who received free fruit and vegetables, or free fruit and vegetables and associated instruction, were consuming significantly more fruit and vegetables than those in the treatment as usual group. Consumption fell to pre-intervention levels 12 months after the intervention stopped. There was no between-group difference at any time in blood micronutrients, body mass index, physical activity or risk of CHD.
Conclusions: The diet of people with schizophrenia improved when they were given free fruit and vegetables but this was given free fruit and vegetables but this was not sustained after withdrawal of the intervention. A support programme added no benefit.