A Pilot Study of Effects of Fruit Intake on Cardiovascular Risk Factors in Children
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Cardiovascular risk factors in childhood are known to be a predictor of morbidity. The objective here was to determine the feasibility of a school-based intervention of providing fruit daily in the classroom and its effects on risk factors of cardiovascular disease and dietary behavior. The authors designed a pilot study (23 children, 9-11 years old) for a randomized controlled trial with fruit served daily in the classroom over a period of 5 weeks as a readily available healthy dietary alternative and follow-up over 16 weeks. The main outcome included acceptability and impact on class time in addition to BMI, waist to hip ratio, body fat percentage, bench test, blood pressure, blood glucose and cholesterol levels, food habits, and attitudes toward dietary fruit intake. The pilot study showed that the intervention (a) was well received by children, parents, and teachers; (b) created minimal disruption to daily activity; and (c) may have the potential to influence physiological parameters and attitudes toward dietary intake in children. Improvements were seen in physiological measures such as body fat percentage and cardiovascular endurance tests, with improvements also seen in blood high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. Questionnaire data suggested that both dietary choices and canteen choices of the children improved over the intervention period. This pilot study provides the proof of concept for conducting a randomized controlled trial of daily provision of fruit within the school environment to evaluate the impact on cardiovascular risk factors at an early age.
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