Public Health Nutr. 2017 Feb;20(3):542-548. doi: 10.1017/S1368980016002652.

The European School Fruit Scheme: impact on children’s fruit and vegetable consumption in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

Sarah Methner1, Gesa Maschkowski1 and Monika Hartmann1

1 University of Bonn, Institute for Food and Resource Economics, Chair of Agricultural and Food Market Research, Nußallee 21, 53115 Bonn, Germany

Corresponding author: Email monika.hartmann@ilr.uni-bonn.de

 

Abstract

OBJECTIVE: To assess the impact of the European School Fruit Scheme (SFS) in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, on children’s fruit and vegetable (F&V) consumption, in particular frequency.

DESIGN: The study consisted of a pre-test/post-test design with an intervention (eight primary schools) and a control group (two primary schools). Children’s F&V consumption frequency was measured prior to the introduction of the SFS in 2010 and after one year’s delivery of F&V (2011).

SETTING: Ten primary schools in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany.

SUBJECTS: In total, 499 primary-school children aged 6-11 years, 390 in the intervention and 109 in the control schools.

RESULTS: Children highly appreciated the SFS. More than 90% evaluated the programme positively. Children in the intervention group showed a significant increase in F&V intake frequency from baseline to follow-up, from on average 1·26 (SD 1·37) to 2·02 (SD 1·33) times/d (P =0·000). The intervention variable had a highly significant impact on children’s F&V consumption frequency, even after controlling for gender, age and stay at school for lunch (β=0·773; 95% CI 0·59, 0·96). The SFS did not induce a reduction of F&V consumption at home. In the control group a non-significant decline in F&V consumption frequency from 1·31 (SD 1·26) to 1·18 (SD 1·34) times/d (P=0·325) was observed.

CONCULSION: One year after the programme’s implementation, the SFS led to a significant short-term increase in children’s F&V consumption.

KEYWORDS: Child nutrition; European School Fruit Scheme; Fruits and vegetables; Intervention study 

 

Supplement

F&V interventions in schools can be effective in improving F&V consumption by children. To promote consumption of F&V among European school-aged children, the European School Fruit Scheme (SFS) was introduced in the school-year 2009/2010. In North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW; the largest federal state of Germany) the SFS was initiated in March 2010. Thus, in our study we aimed to analyse if the SFS in NRW was able to increase children’s F&V intake frequency after one-year free-of-charge intervention of daily F&V provision.

 

Our results show that F&V consumption frequency per day increased significantly in the intervention group from 1.26 at baseline to 2.02 after one-year daily F&V provision while it slightly and not significantly declined in the control group from 1.31 to 1.18 over the period 2010 to 2011 (see Figure 1).

 

 

Figure 1: Consumption frequency of F&V in the intervention and the control group, in 2010 and 2011 [1].

 

Providing children with F&V at school might lead to a reduction in consumption at other times of the day thereby reducing the potential benefit of the SFS. However, our results show that the F&V consumption increase of the intervention group before midday was not compensated by a significant reduction in consumption over the rest of the day (see Figure 2). In the control group, no significant differences in F&V consumption frequency could be detected for any time of the day between baseline and follow-up (2010 to 2011).

 

Figure 2: Consumption frequency of F&V in the intervention and the control group at different day times, in 2010 (solid line) and 2011 (broken line) [1].

 

In conclusion, our study shows that the scheme has been successful in increasing children’s consumption frequency of F&V per day, after one year of intervention. The results also reveal that the regular provision of F&V is highly appreciated by the children.

 

Acknowledgements: The authors wish to thank the schools in NRW that served as study sites for the current analysis.

Financial support: This work was funded by the MKULNV of NRW.

 

References:

[1] Methner, S. (2015): Intervention zur Förderung des Obst- und Gemüsekonsums bei Schülern – Prozess- und Ergebnisevaluation des EU-Schulobstprogramms in Nordrhein-Westfalen. PhD Thesis, Landwirtschaftliche Fakultät der Rheinischen Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität Bonn.