Incentivizing Children's Fruit and Vegetable Consumption: Results of a US Pilot-Study of the Food Dudes Program

Speaker: Heidi Wengreen, PhD, RD

Objective: Preliminary evaluation in the United States (US) of a school-based fruit and vegetable (F/V) intervention, known as the Food Dudes (FD) program, developed in the United Kingdom.

Methods: Over 16 days (Phase 1), elementary-school children (n = 253) watched short videos featuring heroic peers (the FD) eating F/V and received a reward for eating F/V served at lunchtime. In the 3 months that followed (Phase 2), children received increasingly intermittent rewards for eating F/V. Consumption was measured by photo analysis and assessment of skin carotenoids.

Results: Fruit and vegetable intake increased significantly after Phases 1 and 2. This effect was most discriminable among children who consumed no fruit (n = 100) or no vegetables (n = 119) at pre-intervention baseline. Among these children, F/V intake (combined) increased by 0.49 (0.53) cups per day.

Conclusions and Implications: The FD program can increase F/V intake in US elementary schools.