Objectives: To evaluate the effects of a middle-school healthy eating promotion intervention combining environmental changes and computer-tailored feedback, with and without an explicit parent involvement component.
Design: Clustered randomised controlled trial.
Setting: Fifteen West-Flemish (Belgian) middle schools.
Subjects: A random sample of 15 schools with 2991 pupils in 7th and 8th grades was randomly assigned to an intervention group with parental support (n = 5), an intervention group without parental support (n = 5) and a control group (n = 5). In these 15 schools an intervention combining environmental changes with computer-tailored feedback was implemented. Fat and fruit intake, water and soft drinks consumption were measured with food-frequency questionnaires in the total sample of children.
Results: In girls, fat intake and percentage of energy from fat decreased significantly more in the intervention group with parental support, compared with the intervention alone group (all F>3.9, P < 0.05) and the control group (all F>16.7, P < 0.001). In boys, there were no significant decreases in fat intake (F = 1.4, not significant (NS)) or percentage of energy from fat (F = 0.7, NS) as a result of the intervention. No intervention effects were found in boys or in girls for fruit (F = 0.5, NS), soft drinks (F = 2.6, NS) and water consumption (F = 0.3, NS).
Conclusions: Combining physical and social environmental changes with computer-tailored feedback in girls and their parents can induce lower fat intake in middle-school girls. However, to have an impact on the consumption of soft drinks and water, governmental laws that restrict the at-school availability of low-nutritive products may be necessary.