Study shows effectiveness of the school fruit scheme in North Rhine-Westphalia

January 29, 2018

How can you convince elementary school students to consume more fruit and vegetables? Scientists from the University of Bonn and the University of Koblenz-Landau have found that school fruit schemes can actually help to achieve this goal. If children receive fruit and vegetables free of charge in their schools several times a week, they consume considerably more of this food group, which is often less popular with children, even on days without school fruit distribution. The results will now be presented in the "Journal Public Health Nutrition".

If fruit and vegetables are distributed free of charge in elementary schools, the students do actually opt for them. "The frequency of fruit and vegetable consumption of the participating children increases significantly", says Julia Haß, doctoral student at the Institute for Food and Resource Economics (ILR) of the University of Bonn. The study also provided initial indications that participation in the school fruit scheme can have a positive long-term influence on children's nutritional habits. "The participating students consumed fruit and vegetables much more frequently, even on days without school fruit distribution", reports Prof. Dr. Monika Hartmann from the ILR.

Overall, the two scientists from the University of Bonn interviewed more than 800 third- and fourth-graders at twelve elementary schools in North Rhine-Westphalia. The data of 664 children could ultimately be included in the evaluation, which was supported methodically by Prof. Dr. Tanja Lischetzke from the Faculty of Psychology of the University of Koblenz-Landau. The students were divided into three groups: Some of the children received school fruit and vegetables three days a week, another group on two days and the control group did not participate in the school fruit program at all. Students completed questionnaires about the food and drink consumed the previous day and their nutritional knowledge before the study began and again after one year. In order to reliably measure the average frequency of fruit and vegetable consumption, the survey was repeated twice at each time of measurement.

Children at schools with voluntary after-school care profit more

With three days, but also with two school fruit days a week, the frequency of fruit and vegetable consumption of children increased significantly after one year. "There was a tendency for children who use the voluntary after-school care program to benefit more from school fruit deliveries", says Julia Haß. However, this effect applies only to the implementation form with two school fruit days per week and can be explained by the fact that the leftover fruit and vegetables from the morning are passed on to the after-school care program. Students spending all day at school therefore had more opportunity to access the fruit and vegetables. With three school fruit days a week however, all children benefit on a comparable scale as the schools distributed leftover fruit and vegetables in the classes the following morning.

"In principle, the EU School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme is a useful nutritional measure to increase the fruit and vegetable consumption of elementary school children", concludes Julia Haß. The distribution of school fruit on only two days a week appears attractive at first, as more children could be reached with the same budget. Nevertheless, this option must also be considered critically, as not all participating children are supported to the same extent. The scientists emphasize that a further reduction in the distribution frequency should in any case be considered carefully. In order to be able to make reliable statements on the long-term effects of school fruit schemes, further studies would have to be carried out. With regard to the prevention of obesity, the overall nutritional behavior beyond the consumption of fruit and vegetables should be taken into account, according to the researchers.

The European Union promotes school fruit and vegetable schemes

The European Union has been providing financial support for school fruit schemes since 2009. The aim is to increase children's fruit and vegetable consumption and thereby contribute to the development of a healthy lifestyle. North Rhine-Westphalia is one of seven federal states that have been participating from the beginning and also support the scheme with state funds. The strategy for the state's schools initially envisaged the distribution of school fruit and vegetables five times per week. In order to enable more schools to participate, it was decided from the school year 2012/13 onwards to reduce the distribution to three days per school week. The exact implementation of the scheme is up to the schools, but accompanying nutritional education measures are required.
Publication: Julia Haß, Tanja Lischetzke and Monika Hartmann: Does the distribution frequency matter? A subgroup specific analysis of the effectiveness of the EU School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme in Germany comparing twice and thrice weekly deliveries", Journal Public Health Nutrition (PHN), DOI: 10.1017/S1368980017003949

Media contact:

Julia Haß
Institute for Food and Resource Economics (ILR)
University of Bonn

University of Bonn

Related Vegetables Articles from Brightsurf:

One third of UK fruit and vegetables are imported from climate-vulnerable countries
One third of UK fruit and vegetables are imported from climate-vulnerable countries - and this is on the rise.

Eating your vegetables is easier said than done
The landmark EAT-Lancet report on food in the Anthropocene sets ambitious targets.

Research shows that the combined production of fish and vegetables can be profitable
When it comes to future food production, the combined farming of fish and vegetables through aquaponics is currently a hotly debated topic.

Sensitivity to bitter tastes may be why some people eat fewer vegetables
A gene that makes some compounds taste bitter may make it harder for some people to add heart-healthy vegetables to their diet.

Flowering mechanism in Brassica rapa leafy vegetables illuminated
Post graduate students in Kobe University's Graduate School of Agricultural Science have revealed the role of genes in controlling flowering time in the Brassica rapa family.

Offering children a variety of vegetables increases acceptance
Although food preferences are largely learned, dislike is the main reason parents stop offering or serving their children foods like vegetables.

Cooking vegetables: healthier with extra virgin olive oil
Cooking vegetables in the sofrito (sauté) with extra virgin olive oil favours the absorption and release of bioactive compounds of its traditional ingredients (garlic, onion and tomato), according to the study published in the journal Molecules about the role of gastronomy in the health-improving effects of the Mediterranean Diet.

Millions of cardiovascular deaths attributed to not eating enough fruits and vegetables
Preliminary findings from a new study reveal that inadequate fruit and vegetable consumption may account for millions of deaths from heart disease and strokes each year.

Tuck into colourful fruits and vegetables and see the light
A $5.7 billion global medical bill to restore sight for the estimated 45 million people with cataracts could be slashed in half by a diet rich in colourful fruits and vegetables, according to an international study.

Canadians' consumption of fruit and vegetables drops 13 per cent in 11 years
Two surveys taken 11 years apart show a 13-per-cent decrease in the amount of fruit and vegetables being consumed by Canadians, new University of British Columbia research has found.

Read More: Vegetables News and Vegetables Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to