Changes in the nutritional content of children's lunches after the Food Dudes healthy eating programme.J Nutr Sci. 2021; 10:e40.JN
Previous research into the effectiveness of healthy eating programmes has shown increases in healthful eating behaviour in primary schools; however, data collection methods have not been sufficiently sensitive to detect micronutrient changes. The present study extends the literature by measuring individual children's intake of macro- and micronutrients at lunchtime, before and after a programme targeting children's consumption of fruit and vegetables, to identify evidence-based health benefits of programme participation. Baseline data were collected over 4 d at lunchtime in two primary schools. The Food Dudes programme was then implemented in the intervention school. Follow-up data were collected over 4 d in each school 2 months after baseline. We employed a validated and sensitive photographic method to estimate individual children's (N 112) consumption of fruit, vegetables, and their intake of calories, macro- and selected micronutrients. Significant changes were observed in the intervention school but not in the control school: Children's consumption of fruit, vegetables, vitamin C and E intake increased, while their total energy consumption, fat, saturated fat, and sodium intake decreased. The present results show that the Food Dudes programme produced a positive nutritional change, with implications for its application as a healthy eating and obesity prevention intervention. These optimistic conclusions should be tested by further research to establish the longevity of the positive effects presented here.