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A pilot study of the effect of providing daily free fruit to primary-school children in Auckland, New Zealand

, : A pilot study of the effect of providing daily free fruit to primary-school children in Auckland, New Zealand. Public Health Nutrition 12(5): 693-701

To determine the uptake of a free fruit provision to low-decile primary-school children by quantitatively assessing changes in fruit intake. A randomised controlled trial using a paired, cluster randomisation. Twenty low-decile primary schools (schools attended by the most deprived children) in Auckland, New Zealand. In total 2032 children, aged 7-11 years, provided data on at least one occasion. Ten pairs of low-decile primary schools matched by roll size and location were randomly allocated to control (no free fruit) or intervention (free fruit) for a school term. Dietary assessments using the 24 h recall methodology were made at baseline, on the last week of the intervention and 6 weeks post-intervention. Fruit intakes in this cohort were lower than the national average with over 40 % reporting no fruit intake at baseline and did not differ between groups. After the free fruit period the intervention group increased school fruit intakes by 0.39 pieces/school d from baseline (P < or = 0.001) and the proportion of children consuming no fruit reduced to 22 %. This increase, however, was not sustained and fruit intakes fell below baseline levels at 6 weeks post-intervention. Control subjects did not significantly alter their fruit intakes throughout the study. Improving exposure and accessibility to fruits at school increases fruit intakes of low socio-economic group children, particularly those who do not normally eat fruit. The present pilot study demonstrates some possible negative effects of short-term free fruit interventions, but is informative for developing and evaluating sustained fruit intervention programmes.


PMID: 18664310

DOI: 10.1017/S1368980008002954

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