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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: DEVELOPMENT AND PREVENTION OF CHILDHOOD OBESITY

Location: Children's Nutrition Research Center

Title: Differences in fruit and vegetable exposure and preferences among adolescents receiving free fruit and vegetable snacks at school

Authors
item Cullen, Karen -
item Watson, Kathleen -
item Konarik, Melanie -

Submitted to: Appetite
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: April 2, 2009
Publication Date: June 1, 2009
Citation: Cullen, K.W., Watson, K.B., Konarik, M. 2009. Differences in fruit and vegetable exposure and preferences among adolescents receiving free fruit and vegetable snacks at school. Appetite. 52(3):740-744.

Interpretive Summary: Fruit and vegetables are important in the diet. The United States Department of Agriculture sponsors a Free Fruit and Vegetable Program in schools whereby students receive free fruit and vegetable (FV) snacks daily. This 2006-2007 study evaluated whether students ate FV that were new to them in a Houston area high school that had the free FV snack program, and had higher liking for FV. Surveys that asked questions about new FV and students' liking of FV were completed by 2000 students who were in the high school that received the free fruit and vegetable snacks, and 1,600 students in another high school that did not receive the snacks. Students who did not receive the free FV snacks had higher scores for prior FV exposure, and vegetable preferences were significantly higher than the students in the high school that had the program. High school students receiving the free FV snacks who had tasted the item previously reported significantly higher preferences than students who had tasted it for the first time at school. The Free Fruit and Vegetable Program did not appear to improve high school student reported FV exposure and preferences. Future research should investigate the connection between food exposure, preferences, and consumption in adolescents.

Technical Abstract: Low fruit and vegetable (FV) intakes are associated with excess body weight. The United States Department of Agriculture sponsors a Free Fruit and Vegetable Program in schools whereby students receive free FV snacks daily. This study assessed whether the program improved student exposure to and preferences for FV in a Houston high school in 2006-2007. Anonymous, post-intervention only FV exposure and preference surveys were completed by 2000 intervention school students and 1,600 students in a comparison school during May 2007. Differences in FV exposure and preferences were assessed, as well as differences in preferences between those students who tasted the item for the first time at school compared to those who had tasted the item before. The control school average scores for prior FV exposure and vegetable preferences were significantly higher than the intervention school scores. Intervention school students who had tasted the item previously reported significantly higher preferences than students who had tasted it for the first time at school. Access to the Free Fruit and Vegetable Program did not appear to improve high school student reported FV exposure and preferences. Future research should investigate the connection between food exposure, preferences, and consumption in adolescents.

Last Modified: 4/16/2014
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