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J Epidemiol Community Health 67:332-338 doi:10.1136/jech-2012-201604
  • Research report

Family meals can help children reach their 5 A Day: a cross-sectional survey of children's dietary intake from London primary schools

  1. Janet E Cade
  1. Nutritional Epidemiology Group, School of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Leeds, Leeds, UK
  1. Correspondence to Meaghan S Christian, Nutritional Epidemiology Group, School of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK; m.s.christian{at}leeds.ac.uk
  • Received 6 July 2012
  • Revised 5 November 2012
  • Accepted 6 November 2012
  • Published Online First 19 December 2012

Abstract

Background This study aims to explore how the home food environment and parental attitudes and values affect children's fruit and vegetable (F&V) intake.

Methods The sample consists of 2383 children with a mean age of 8.3 years (95% CI 8.2 to 8.3) attending 52 primary schools in London. These children are taking part in two randomised controlled trials to evaluate a school gardening programme. Diet was assessed using a validated 24-h food tick list, the Child And Diet Evaluation Tool (CADET).

Results The CADET tool found that children consumed on average 293 g F&V (95% CI 287 to 303) per day. Clustered (by school) multilevel regression models with total F&V as the primary outcome were conducted to explore how the home environment affects children's F&V intake. Children of families who reported ‘always’ eating a family meal together at a table had 125 g (95% CI 92 to 157; p=<0.001) more F&V than families who never ate a meal together. Daily consumption of F&V by parents was associated with higher F&V (88 g, 95% CI 37 to 138) intake in children compared with rarely/never consumption of F&V by parents. Cutting up fruit and vegetables for children was associated with higher consumption. Families who reported always cutting up F&V for their children had 44 g (95% CI 18 to 71) more F&V than families who never cut up F&V.

Conclusions This study identified that cutting up F&V and family consumption of F&V facilitates children's intake. Eating a family meal together regularly could increase children's F&V intake and help them achieve the recommended intake.

Trial registration ISRCTN11396528.

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