Background: There is growing recognition of the need to increase consumption of currently suboptimal levels of fruit and vegetables by children, given their known beneficial effects for health. There is, however, a need for a synthesis of the evidence on interventions that might achieve this policy goal.
Methods: A systematic review of published and unpublished studies was carried out by searching 14 publication databases and contacting experts in the fields. All papers in eight languages were considered if they described individual- and population-based interventions and promotion programmes that encouraged the consumption of a diet relatively higher in fruit and/or vegetables in free-living, not acutely ill children of both genders, with follow-up periods of at least 3 months, measurement of change in intake and a control group.
Results: Fifteen studies focusing on children met the criteria for inclusion in the systematic review. None of the studies reviewed had a detrimental effect on fruit and vegetable consumption. Ten studies had a significant effect, ranging from +0.3 to +0.99 servings/day.
Conclusions: More research is needed to examine in more depth, for longer follow-up periods, the effectiveness of interventions promoting fruit and vegetable consumption. The evidence is strongest in favor of multi-component interventions to increase fruit and vegetable consumption in children.