Background: Inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption in childhood increases the risk of developing chronic disease. Despite this, a substantial proportion of children in developed nations, including Australia, do not consume sufficient quantities of fruits and vegetables. Parents are influential in the development of dietary habits of young children but often lack the necessary knowledge and skills to promote healthy eating in their children. The aim of this study is to assess the efficacy of a telephone-based intervention for parents to increase the fruit and vegetable consumption of their 3- to 5-year-old children.
Methods/design: The study, conducted in the Hunter region of New South Wales, Australia, employs a cluster randomised controlled trial design. Two hundred parents from 15 randomly selected preschools will be randomised to receive the intervention, which consists of print resources and four weekly 30-minute telephone support calls delivered by trained telephone interviewers. The calls will assist parents to increase the availability and accessibility of fruit and vegetables in the home, create supportive family eating routines and role-model fruit and vegetable consumption. A further two hundred parents will be randomly allocated to the control group and will receive printed nutrition information only. The primary outcome of the trial will be the change in the child's consumption of fruit and vegetables as measured by the fruit and vegetable subscale of the Children's Dietary Questionnaire. Pre-intervention and post-intervention parent surveys will be administered over the telephone. Baseline surveys will occur one to two weeks prior to intervention delivery, with follow-up data collection calls occurring two, six, 12 and 18 months following baseline data collection.
Discussion: If effective, this telephone-based intervention may represent a promising public health strategy to increase fruit and vegetable consumption in childhood and reduce the risk of subsequent chronic disease.