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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Research Project: DELTA HUMAN NUTRITION RESEARCH

Location: Mid South Area (MSA)

Title: A school-based fruit and vegetable snacking pilot intervention for Lower Mississippi Delta children

Authors
item Tussing Humphreys, Lisa
item Thomson, Jessica
item McCabe, Beth
item Strickland, Earline
item Lovera, Dalia
item Bogle, Margaret

Submitted to: Infant, Child and Adolecscent Nutrition
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: June 29, 2012
Publication Date: December 1, 2012
Citation: Tussing Humphreys, L.M., Thomson, J.L., Mccabe, B.A., Strickland, E., Lovera, D., Bogle, M.L. 2012. A school-based fruit and vegetable snacking pilot intervention for Lower Mississippi Delta children. Infant, Child and Adolecscent Nutrition. 4(6):340-7.

Interpretive Summary: In the United States (US), approximately 32% of children 2-19 years of age are classified as overweight or obese. In the states of Arkansas, Louisiana, and Mississippi, child overweight and obesity is even higher. One strategy (among several) advocated by the Expert Committee of the American Academy of Pediatrics to combat childhood obesity is consuming the United States Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) recommended daily servings for fruits and vegetables, which range from four to as many as 10 servings, depending on child age and sex. Unfortunately, less than 12% of US children, 9-12 years of age, meet the USDA recommendations for daily servings of fruits and vegetables. The majority of US children are enrolled in school, consuming one and sometimes up to three meals per day in this setting. Hence, schools can provide a natural environment in which children can learn about and engage in healthy eating practices. Therefore, the objectives of this pilot study were to: (1) assess 4th - 6th grade Lower Mississippi Delta elementary school children’s familiarity with (name recognition and experience eating) and willingness to try several fruits and vegetables; (2) evaluate the potential of a six week school-based, fruit and vegetable snack feeding intervention to increase children’s familiarity with and consumption of select fruits and vegetables; and (3) determine if associations existed among familiarity, willingness to try, and consumption of the fruit and vegetable snacks. One hundred ninety 4th-6th grade students from a rural Lower Mississippi Delta school participated. At the start of the program, the majority of students provided correct name recognition for six of the 11 fruit and vegetable snacks offered, while name recognition increased significantly for the other five fruits and vegetable by the end of the program. Similarly, eating experience increased for seven of the 11 fruit and vegetable snacks offered. On average, a high percentage of the fruit (54-98%) and vegetable (49-50%) snacks offered were consumed by the students. Willingness to try and grade were the strongest predictors of fruit and vegetable snack consumption. These results suggest that a fruit and vegetable snack feeding intervention can increase the familiarity, and thereby potentially, the amount of fruits and vegetables consumed by Lower Mississippi Delta school children. Further research is warranted to determine if the positive effects of such programs extend beyond the school environment and into the home.

Technical Abstract: In this pilot study, we examined school-aged children’s familiarity with and willingness to try several fruits and vegetables (FV) and the impact of a six week school-based snack feeding intervention on familiarity with and consumption of several FV. One hundred ninety 4th-6th grade students from a rural Lower Mississippi Delta (LMD) school participated. Measures included surveys assessing familiarity and willingness to try FV and direct observation of fruit and vegetable snack consumption. At baseline, the majority of students provided correct name recognition for six of the 11 snacks offered, while name recognition increased significantly for the other five FV post-intervention. Similarly, eating experience increased for seven of the 11 FV offered. On average, a high percentage of the fruit (54-98%) and vegetable (49-50%) snacks offered were consumed by the students. Willingness to try and grade were the strongest predictors of fruit and vegetable snack consumption. These results suggest that a fruit and vegetable snack feeding intervention can increase the familiarity, and thereby potentially, the amount of FV consumed by LMD school children. Further research is warranted to determine if the positive effects of such programs extend beyond the school environment and into the home.

Last Modified: 9/22/2014
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