Background While Canada is one of the world’s most prosperous nations, the health of our children is dismal, with obesity rates amongst the highest in the world. A healthy diet, including at least 5 to 6 daily servings of fruit and vegetables, is of profound importance to child health.
Aim To evaluate the efficacy of a fruit and vegetable program ‘Freggie Fridays’ developed to encourage Canadian elementary school children (grades 1 to 6) to eat the recommended number of fruit and vegetable servings each day.
Methods A prospective quasi-experimental trial compared schools receiving the “Freggie Friday” curriculum as the intervention (n= 8) to those not receiving the curriculum as control (n=6). The primary outcome measure was the difference in levels of fruit and vegetable consumption as measured by a food frequency questionnaire. Information on attitudes and knowledge of fruit and vegetable consumption was attained using an adapted version of the validated Pro-Children study questionnaire.
Results A total of 807 of the 942 children who completed the baseline questionnaires completed the follow-up questionnaires (450 intervention and 357 control). A mixed effects regression model indicated no significant intervention effects on fruit or vegetable consumption, snack food consumption, or knowledge or attitudes relating to fruit and vegetable consumption.
Conclusions Despite clear messaging and a sound program, it appears that adding a nutritional program, which expects busy teachers to add this to their educational curriculum, may not be the most efficacious method of eliciting healthy dietary behaviour change in Canadian elementary school-aged children.