Research Article

Promoting school lunch fruit and vegetable intake through role modeling: a pilot study

  • Received: 28 October 2019 Accepted: 01 January 2020 Published: 07 January 2020
  • Objectives Child fruit and vegetable consumption is a critical component of adult chronic disease prevention, yet fruit and vegetable intake remains low among elementary school children in the United States. This pilot study tested a role modeling intervention designed to promote fruit and vegetable consumption in a U.S elementary school cafeteria setting. Methods This one-year, repeated cross-sectional study used digital photographs to assess fruit and vegetable waste at baseline (n = 566 trays) and follow-up (n = 231 trays) of kindergarten through fifth grade students in one elementary school. Differences in waste were assessed through Mann-Whitney statistical tests. Feedback on intervention acceptability was provided by the intervention team during implementation. Results The proportion of students consuming all of their selected fruits and vegetables increased by 11.1% and 8.7% respectively (p < 0.01). There was a significant decrease in the proportion of students not consuming any of their selected fruit (16.0%, p < 0.001). Staff and students provided positive reports of intervention acceptance. Conclusions and Implications Findings from this pilot study indicate that role modeling in a school cafeteria setting may be a promising health promotion strategy and provide groundwork for future research in the development of school cafeteria role modeling interventions. Further research is needed to assess intervention efficacy and acceptability at a larger scale.

    Citation: Stephanie S Machado, Michael Burton, Wes Loy, Kyle A Chapman. Promoting school lunch fruit and vegetable intake through role modeling: a pilot study[J]. AIMS Public Health, 2020, 7(1): 10-19. doi: 10.3934/publichealth.2020002

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  • Objectives Child fruit and vegetable consumption is a critical component of adult chronic disease prevention, yet fruit and vegetable intake remains low among elementary school children in the United States. This pilot study tested a role modeling intervention designed to promote fruit and vegetable consumption in a U.S elementary school cafeteria setting. Methods This one-year, repeated cross-sectional study used digital photographs to assess fruit and vegetable waste at baseline (n = 566 trays) and follow-up (n = 231 trays) of kindergarten through fifth grade students in one elementary school. Differences in waste were assessed through Mann-Whitney statistical tests. Feedback on intervention acceptability was provided by the intervention team during implementation. Results The proportion of students consuming all of their selected fruits and vegetables increased by 11.1% and 8.7% respectively (p < 0.01). There was a significant decrease in the proportion of students not consuming any of their selected fruit (16.0%, p < 0.001). Staff and students provided positive reports of intervention acceptance. Conclusions and Implications Findings from this pilot study indicate that role modeling in a school cafeteria setting may be a promising health promotion strategy and provide groundwork for future research in the development of school cafeteria role modeling interventions. Further research is needed to assess intervention efficacy and acceptability at a larger scale.
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    Acknowledgment



    The authors would like to acknowledge Cascade Health Alliance for providing funding for Cafeteria Role Model stipends and intervention incentives. The authors would like to thank Oregon Tech Population Management students for their assistance with data collection. The authors would also like to give a special thanks to cafeteria staff for their help with the intervention.

    Conflict of interest



    All authors declare no conflicts of interest in this paper.

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    © 2020 the Author(s), licensee AIMS Press. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)
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