Increasing Fruit and Vegetable Consumption among Schoolchildren: Efforts in Middle-Income Countries

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Rome, Italy.
Food and nutrition bulletin (Impact Factor: 1.15). 03/2013; 34(1):75-94. DOI: 10.1177/156482651303400109
Source: PubMed


To reverse the trend of rising child obesity rates in many middle-income countries, recommendations include increasing fruit and vegetable consumption. Schools can positively impact children's eating behavior, and multicomponent interventions that include the curriculum, school food environments, and parental involvement are most effective.
To find out how fruits and vegetables feature in the dietary guidelines provided to schools, what specific schemes are available for providing these foods, the extent to which nutrition education is included in the curriculum, and how vegetables and fruits are procured in primary schools.
In 2008, a survey questionnaire previously validated and revised was sent electronically to national program managers and focal points for school feeding programs in 58 middle-income countries. The rationale was to obtain information relevant to the entire country from these key informants. The survey response rate was 46%. The information provided by 22 respondents in 18 countries was included in the current study. On average, respondents answered 88% of the questions analyzed in this paper. Of the respondents, 73% worked for the national authority responsible for school food programs, with 45% at the program coordinator or director level.
Few countries have any special fruit and vegetable schemes; implementation constraints include cost and lack of storage facilities. Although 11 of 18 countries have both nutrient-based guidelines and school food guidelines for meals, fruits and vegetables are often not adequately specified.
In some countries, nutrition education, special activities, school gardens, and parental participation are used to promote fruits and vegetables. Specific schemes are needed in some, together with school food guidelines that include fruits and vegetables.

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