Objective: To assess prospectively the consumption of fruit and vegetables and its' correlation to the parental consumption in boys and girls taking part in an atherosclerosis prevention study (Special Turku Coronary Risk Factor Intervention Project for Children (STRIP) study).
Hypothesis: Nutrition counselling focused on cardiovascular health effects vegetable and fruit consumption.
Design: A prospective, randomised, clinical trial.
Subjects: Children were recruited to the STRIP study between 1989 and 1992. At the age of 7 months, children were randomised to the intervention (n = 540) or the control group (n = 522) and were followed up until the age of 11 years.
Intervention: Families in the intervention group have, since randomisation, received biannual individualised dietary counselling aimed at reduction of cardiovascular risk factors, especially saturated fat intake. Food records were used to assess fruit and vegetable consumption of children and parents.
Results: The percentage of total energy intake provided by fruit and vegetables decreased when the children grew older (P for age <0.001). The 1- to 10-year-old intervention boys consumed more vegetables (mean difference 3.18 g/day; CI 1.48-4.86; P < 0.001) and fruit (mean difference 10.1 g/day; CI 5.28-14.94; P < 0.001) than did the control. Mother's consumption correlated with the consumption of their daughters and sons, whereas father's consumption correlated only with the consumption of their sons.
Conclusions: Finnish children taking part in the atherosclerosis prevention study had a remarkably low fruit and vegetable consumption, which furthermore decreased with age. The children's consumption correlated with the parental consumption, except between boys and mothers. A slight intervention effect was present only among boys.