Objective: To measure the effects of two school-based interventions on children's intake of fruit and vegetables (F&V).
Design and methods: A total of six primary schools were randomly assigned to (1) a free F&V distribution programme, or (2) a multicomponent programme, consisting of a classroom curriculum and parental involvement. The two interventions were evaluated on their effects and compared with six control schools in a pre-test-post-test design. Two methods were used for dietary assessment: a pre-structured food recall and a food-frequency questionnaire including only F&V.
Subjects: A total of 939 parents of children aged 4-12 years filled out the questionnaire at both pre-test and post-test. The response rate was 54%.
Results: Multilevel analyses showed that both programmes were equally effective in increasing children's fruit consumption by 0.2 portions per day. The free F&V distribution increased vegetable intake among non-native children and the oldest age group, and the multicomponent programme among the oldest children and girls. The distribution also caused an increased 24 h fruit, juice and vegetable intake among the youngest and the oldest age groups, and the multicomponent programme among all children.
Conclusion: The results of this study indicate that both interventions were shown to be effective for different subgroups regarding age, gender and ethnicity. When comparing both interventions, the distribution programme was shown to be more effective, especially in increasing vegetable consumption. An important next step will be to investigate which intervention has the greatest potential to be implemented in primary schools.