Evaluation of the three-year school-based multicomponent intervention "Nutri-školica" in terms of changing children's preferences for fruit and vegetable dishes from the school menus.
Use of Theory or Research
Preference, as one of the biological characteristics according to Bronfenbrenner's Ecological Systems Theory, may be the trigger for children's consumption of fruit and vegetable dishes. With appropriate educational, sensory, and exposure-based intervention, it could be modified to increase children's acceptance of fruit and vegetable dishes.
Primary school children (7-10 years old).
"Nutri-školica" is a three-year (school years 2018/2019-2020/2021) school-based multicomponent intervention aimed at increasing the acceptance and consumption of fruit and vegetables among primary school children. The intervention was implemented in 14 elementary school in the city of Zagreb, with children within the schools divided into an intervention and a control group.
To assess the impact of the intervention on children's preferences for fruit and vegetable dishes, a two-way analysis of variance with repeated measures was conducted to compare pre- and post-intervention changes in the intervention and control groups. Children's preferences were assessed during school lunch two weeks before and after the intervention. After the children finished their school lunch, they rated the meal items, which included fruit or vegetables, using a taste-and-rate method on a 5-point smiley-face scale (5 represents "most liked"). The analysis was conducted with 70 children who ate school lunch and rated the meals before and after the intervention.
Children in the intervention group (before: 4.19 ± 1.12; after: 4.29 ± 0.83) showed a significant increase (P = 0.018) in preference for fruit and vegetable dishes served at school after the three-year intervention compared to the control group (before: 4.29 ± 0.92; after: 3.28 ± 1.07).
The intervention "Nutri-školica" has proven successful in changing children's preferences for fruit and vegetable dishes.
European Commission – Horizon 2020 (Call H2020-SFS-2015-2, Topic: SFS-20-2015, Type of action: RIA, Proposal Number: 678024-2); Croatian Science Foundation - Young researchers' career development project: training of doctoral students (DOK-01-2018 - funded by the European Social Fund)