Factors Related to Fruit and Vegetable Consumption at Lunch Among Elementary Students: A Scoping Review
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Factors Related to Fruit and Vegetable Consumption at Lunch Among Elementary Students: A Scoping Review

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    Prev Chronic Dis
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    Few children consume the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables, and schools are a valuable setting for interventions, including programs such as the National School Lunch Program, to increase consumption. Previous research explored factors in this program that influence fruit and vegetable consumption. The objective of this scoping review was to identify, describe, and categorize studies that quantitatively measured the consumption of fruits and vegetables during the school lunch meal among US elementary school students.


    We conducted a scoping review to identify, describe, and categorize studies examining factors influencing fruit and vegetable consumption during lunch among children in the United States. Eligibility criteria included studies that reported fruit and vegetable consumption at the lunch meal among children in kindergarten through grade 5. We included all types of study designs and categorized factors according to a socioecological framework.


    We identified 49 studies that examined the influence of one or more factors on elementary students’ consumption of fruits and vegetables. Factors (n = 21) were categorized according to a socioecological framework: individual (3 factors), social environment (3 factors), physical environment (9 factors), policy (2 factors), and a combined approach (4 factors). Several factors had consistent positive associations with fruit and vegetable consumption at lunch across 2 or more studies: increasing age, serving sliced fruits, serving vegetables first, allowing more time for eating, using incentives, using social marketing and/or nutrition education curricula, and using the updated nutrition standards. Only 10 studies used a randomized design.


    Although we found consistent evidence for some factors, we found conflicting or limited evidence for most, which points to the need for replication in future studies. The lack of randomized designs is a challenge, because it precludes the ability to draw conclusions about cause and effect. Our review may aid in framing practical aspects of the design of future research and in identifying an approach for a systematic review.

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