To teach children to eat more fruit and vegetables, the Louis Bolk Institute conducted a project with pre-school childcare centres in and around Amsterdam and Rotterdam (2014 - 2016). The results of this survey were published by the end of 2016 (press release in Dutch).
The first phase of the project was aimed at developing suitable dietary interventions for children, based on literature reviews and focus groups including childcare staff. The objective was to offer children more fruit and vegetables, both in terms of quantity and variety, and to use organic produce where possible. In the second phase of the project these interventions were implemented in various childcare centres, where we measured the children's actual consumption of fruit and vegetables to assess whether the interventions were effective. The interventions were also evaluated together with parents and childcare staff.
Fruit and vegetable consumption in the Netherlands is too low
Insufficient consumption of fruit and vegetables increases health risks. Research has shown that almost all age groups of the Dutch population fail to eat enough fruit and vegetables on a daily basis. Our project was aimed at pre-school children, as research has shown that taste preferences develop in early childhood. It is also known that repeated tasting (8-10 times) is generally necessary for young children to accept and develop a liking for new foods. Childcare centres offer a suitable learning environment to expose children to a greater variety of fruit and vegetables. Healthy eating habits acquired at a young age are likely to persist into adulthood, hence decreasing the risk of Western diseases such as diabetes.
About the project More fruit and Vegetables in Childcare Centres
The project 'More fruit and vegetables in childcare centres' was conducted as part of the collaborative programme 'More fruit and vegetables for everyone', funded by the Dutch ministry of Economic Affairs. Project partners include Greenport, BD Totaal and Odin/Estafette. At a later stage, healthcare institutions will also participate in this project.