Promoting and sustaining health through increased vegetable and fruit consumption among European schoolchildren: The Pro Children Project
The Pro Children consortium consists of the following partners: Knut-Inge Klepp (Coordinator), Department of Nutrition, University of Oslo, Norway; Carmen Perez Rodrigo, Unidad de Nutricion Comunitaria, Bilbao, Spain; Inga Thorsdottir, Unit for Nutrition Research, Landspitali University Hospital, Reykjavik, Iceland; Pernille Due, Department of Social Medicine, University of Copenhagen, Denmark; Maria Daniel Vaz de Almeida, Faculdade de Ciências da Nutrição e Alimentação da Universidade do Porto, Portugal; Ibrahim Elmadfa and Alexandra Wolf, Institute of Nutrition, University of Vienna, Austria; Jóhanna Haraldsdóttir, Research Department of Human Nutrition, Royal Veterinary and Agricultural University, Copenhagen, Denmark; Johannes Brug, Erasmus Medical Center Rotterdam, Department of Public Health, The Netherlands; Michael Sjöström and Agneta Yngve, Unit for Preventive Nutrition, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden; Ilse De Bourdeaudhuij, Department of Movement and Sport Sciences, Ghent University, Belgium.
The Pro Children study is designed to assess vegetable and fruit consumption and determinants of the consumption patterns among European school children and their parents. A second objective is to develop and test strategies for promoting increased consumption of vegetables and fruits among school children and their parents.
Subjects and methods
Surveys of national, representative samples of 11-year-old school children and their parents were conducted in nine countries during October–November 2003, i.e. in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Iceland, The Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Sweden. Comprehensive school-based educational programmes were developed and tested in three settings, i.e. in the Bilbao region, Spain, in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, and in Buskerud county of Norway. A 24-h recall format and frequency items assessing regular intake were used to assess vegetable and fruit consumption. Determinants were assessed employing the theoretical framework of the ASE model (Attitudes, Social Influences and Self-Efficacy), including cognitive factors, normative influences, skills and environmental barriers related to vegetable and fruit consumption. The intervention programmes were tested employing a group-randomized trial design where schools were randomly allocated to an intervention arm and a delayed intervention arm. Surveys among all participating children and their parents were conducted prior to the initiation of the intervention (September 2003; month 0), immediately after the end of the intervention (at month 8) and at the end of the subsequent school year (month 20).
Preliminary data from the project indicate that girls eat vegetables and fruit significantly more often than do boys across all participating countries. There are no sex differences, however, with respect to perceived availability of vegetables and fruit at home and outside the home setting. In all countries, perceived availability appears to be significantly associated with reported frequency of both vegetable and fruit consumption.
Experience so far indicates that the Pro Children Project will succeed in producing valid and reliable research instruments for assessing vegetable and fruit consumption among school children and their parents and that comparable, comprehensive intervention programmes can be implemented across geographic and cultural settings within Europe.
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