Evaluation of the 'Veginvasion' resource to increase consumption of vegetables in Primary School Children.
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(2015) Evaluation of the 'Veginvasion' resource to increase consumption of vegetables in Primary School Children., no. 32.
Introduction: The importance of consuming a diet rich in fruit and vegetables has been well publicised in recent years yet the Scottish population are still failing to meet dietary recommendations of at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables per day (>400g/day). Scottish children in particular are repeatedly falling below this recommendation with an average of 2.7 portions being consumed per day. It has been suggested that children prefer to eat fruit over vegetables yet there are very few vegetable only interventions being utilized to try and overcome this reality. Veginvasion is a healthy-eating initiative developed by East Lothian council with the aim of increasing Primary School children's knowledge and consumption of vegetables. the aim of the present study was to evaluate the impact of Veginvasion to determine the effects in regards to increasing the knowledge and consumption of vegetables in Primary School children. Methods: Meetings between the researcher and teachers at Macmerry Primary School were held prior to the beginning of Veginvasion. A pupil questionnaire was developed and distributed to all pupils in Primary 1 and Primary 2 before Veginvasion took place and again one week post-intervention to assess changes in knowledge and liking of vegetables to be observed. The questionnaire included circling answers and applying stickers under the appropriate face in a grid of vegetables. A parental questionnaire was also developed and sent home with every pupil involved to assess parent/guardian opinion on the Veginvasion resource. Similarly, a teacher questionnaire was developed to assess their perspectives on the Veginvasion project. Numerical data was entered into SPSS and paired t-tests were used to compare pre- and post-intervention results. Results: 37 pupils (24m, 13f) were involved in the study. Significant differences (P=<0.05) were seen in knowledge in both genders and in those aged 5 year olds. When 5year olds were considered alone liking of rhubarb, beetroot, spinach, cabbage and leek (P=<0.001, 0.001, 0.01, 0.008 and 0.002, respectively) were found to be significant and only rhubarb, beetroot, cabbage and leek (P=0.001, <0.001, 0.047 and 0.005, respectively) were found to be significant in 6 year olds. Very few gender differences were observed apart from boys liking of cabbage significantly changed whereas girls liking of spinach significantly changed. A response rate of 62% was achieved from parental questionnaires. The majority agreed that this resource would increase children's knowledge and consumption of vegetables. Teachers also stated that the children enjoyed this additional project but felt it was ultimately down to parental attitude whether the children would have the opportunity to consume vegetables at home. Conclusion: Veginvasion can have positive effects on 5 and 6year old children's knowledge and liking for vegetables highlighting the importance for continued emphasis on nutrition education and health promotion within schools. This additional project would be beneficial to all Primary Schools in Scotland to improve awareness of many health benefits of vegetables and introduce a variety of common vegetables allowing for easy recognition whilst shopping with parents. Ultimately this may encourage increased consumption in all age groups. Key Words: Scotland, vegetables, children, schools, Veginvasion, increase consumption