The aim of this paper is to study the extent of change in parents' fruit and vegetable consumption during a period when their children participate in a school-based healthy eating intervention.
A total of 256 12-year-old Danish schoolchildren took part in a text-message feedback intervention promoting fruit and vegetable consumption. One parent of each child filled out self-administered questionnaires at three points during the 40-week study period. In the questionnaire, stated consumption, perceived influence factors on their consumption and self-efficacy and self-regulation were measured.
Only half of the parents stated that they met the “five a day” target. These parents reported good availability of fruit and vegetables in their household, high consumption among their friends and frequent exercise and they were characterised by high self-efficacy levels. Stated consumption increased during the period of the intervention targeted at their children. Parents that reported an increase had, at the start of the intervention, reported low levels of consumption, lack of encouragement to eat healthy at their workplace and lower autonomous self-regulation.
The consumption data is limited to self-report.
The results indicate that parents can be influenced indirectly by school-based interventions targeted at their children. Future interventions should include the family with the intent to support positive interaction that might further promote and sustain healthy eating habits.
The study considers the possible effects school interventions targeting children may have on the immediate family, an aspect generally overlooked in school-based health initiatives.
The authors would like to thank PhD student Susanne Pedersen and the student assistants for their great work during the completion of the study. The work was supported by the Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation, in the scope of the research project “Step by step changes of children's preferences towards healthier food”, grant number 09/061357.
Aschemann-Witzel, J., Bech-Larsen, T. and Grønhøj, A. (2014), "Are parents eating their greens? Fruit and vegetable consumption during a school intervention", British Food Journal, Vol. 116 No. 4, pp. 585-597. https://doi.org/10.1108/BFJ-05-2012-0134
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