2013, Volume 5, Issue 4

Methods to encourage healthy eating in children: Review of current findings



Reda Moceviciene1, Apolinaras Zaborskis1

1Faculty of Public Health, Academy of Medicine of the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences


Author for correspondence: Reda Moceviciene; Faculty of Public Health, Academy of Medicine of the Lithuanian University of Health Sciences; email: reda.moceviciene@gmail.com

DOI: 10.2478/bjha-2013-0026

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Abstract

Background: Healthy eating, especially fruit and vegetable consumption, is a major contributor to the prevention of chronic non-communicable diseases. The multiple benefits of healthy food and nutrition in childhood and adolescence reinforce the need for studies encouraging young people to healthy nutrition. The present review increases understanding of what methods (interventions) should be performed to encourage healthy eating in children and adolescents.
Material/Methods: A scientific literature review of Medline (Pubmed) database was performed, a total of 615 publications were found. Of these, only 15 papers were selected for the analysis.
Results: The multi-component interventions (encouraging of fruit and vegetable consumption was usually combined with physical activity promotion and overweight/obesity control, n=8) could be considered as effective in encouraging healthy nutrition. Findings showed that programs and empowering policies at schools based on scientific evidence can increase consumption of fruit and vegetables among children and adolescents and promote healthier lifestyle as significant changes in healthy eating after intervention were identified in two thirds of projects. Barriers and limitations such as possible difficulties of implementation, duration and density of intervention, however, must be considered and prevented prior to interventions when it is possible because multi-component strategies may not lead to positive eating behaviour changes as intended. Moreover, single strategies such as fruit and vegetable campaigns also appeared to have positive effects on healthy foods consumption by children.
Conclusions: The multi-component interventions (combinations of methods to encourage fruit and vegetable consumption, physical activity and overweight or obesity control) can be considered as effective in healthy eating promotion of children and adolescents. However, barriers and limitations (difficulties in implementation, duration and density of an intervention) should be prevented prior the interventions.


Key words: children, adolescents, eating behavior, methods, health promotion, schools, dietary habits