Further Evaluation of the School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme

David Teeman, Emma Scott, Sandie Schagen, Sarah Blenkinsop, Sally Bradshaw, Janet Cade, Doris Chan, Darren Greenwood, Joan Ransley, James Thomas

01 May 2007

Available to download from Department of Health

In 2003 the New Opportunities Fund commissioned NFER, in partnership with nutritionists from the University of Leeds, to evaluate the impact of the School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme (SFVS) regional roll-out. Findings indicated that fruit consumption increased (by about half a portion a day) among children participating in the scheme, but there did not appear to be any wider impact on diet, and increased consumption was not sustained when children’s participation in the scheme came to an end. However, year 3 pupils tested had been in the scheme for only four months, and it was thought possible that the SFVS might have a longer-term impact on children who were exposed to the scheme for a greater period of time. The Department of Health (DH) commissioned NFER to undertake research to test this hypothesis and explore the impact of the SFVS further. The follow-up survey was carried out in November 2006, two years after the previous survey, so the year 3 pupils at that time would have been involved in the scheme for two years and four months.

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Key Findings

  • Children in years 1, 2 and 3 were eating more fruit and vegetables in 2006 than they were in 2004, overall the average daily consumption had risen from 3.65 portions to 4.41 portions.
  • As in 2004, fruit consumption declined as children grew older, and the SFVS had not counteracted this effect.
  • For the year 3 children, the general increase in fruit and vegetable consumption had compensated for the decrease which occurs with age, hence they were eating as much as they did in year 1, but not nearly as much as the current year 1 pupils.
  • ‘Packed lunch children’ consumed more fruit, fruit juice and snacks, while ‘school dinner children’ ate a lot more vegetables. Over time, both groups had increased their consumption of fruit and vegetables, but the biggest increase by far was in vegetables for children eating school dinners.
  • Although there was an overall decrease in snacks and desserts, it was relatively small and significant only for children having school dinners.
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