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Fruit and vegetables--attitudes and knowledge of primary school children

Edwards, J.S.A., Hartwell, H.H.
Journal of human nutrition and dietetics 2002 v.15 no.5 pp. 365-374
school children, vegetables, nutrition knowledge, health promotion, food intake, food choices, United Kingdom
Objectives: To evaluate whether children, aged 8-11 years could correctly identify commonly available fruit and vegetables; to assess the acceptability of these; and to gain a broad understanding of children's perceptions of 'healthy eating'. Methods: Fruit and vegetables used were those readily available in retail outlets in the UK. Data were collected from three year-groups (n = 221) using a questionnaire supported by semistructured interviews and discussions. Results: Overall, fruit was more popular than vegetables and recognition of fruit better; melons being the least well identified. Recognition of vegetables increased with age; the least well identified being cabbage which was confused with lettuce by 32, 16 and 17% of pupils in their respective age groups. Most children (75%) were familiar with the term healthy eating, citing school (46%) as the most common source of information. Pupils showed an awareness and understanding of current recommendations for a balanced diet, although the message has become confused. Conclusions: If fresh fruit and vegetables are to form part of a balanced diet, the 'health message' needs to be clear. Fruit is well liked; vegetables are less acceptable with many being poorly recognized, factors which need to be addressed.