Children generally do not consume adequate amounts of fruits and vegetables (F/V). Eating more F/V can improve energy density and overall diet quality.
Our aim was to investigate whether improvements in F/V consumption were associated with improvements in energy density, total calories, and dietary components related to F/V.
We performed secondary analyses of dietary data from a successful four-group randomized controlled trial promoting F/V. Data were collected at baseline, immediately after gameplay, and 3 months post intervention.
Preadolescent child−parent dyads (n=400) were recruited. Eligibility criteria were 4th- or 5th-grade child (approximately 9 to 11 years old) with Internet access and a parent willing to participate in the intervention. Complete dietary data were collected on 387 of the 400 child participants. The videogame was available online on a secure, password-protected website.
Main outcome measures
Dietary intake was assessed with three unannounced dietary recalls collected at each data-collection period via telephone by trained staff using Nutrition Data System for Research software. Energy density and F/V, nutrient, and food consumption were calculated.
Statistical analysis performed
A 4×3 (group by time) repeated measures analysis of covariance with mixed-effect linear models was used. Covariates included child’s sex, race/ethnicity, and total energy intake as well as parent’s age and household education. Energy was excluded as a covariate in the energy density and energy models.
Significant changes occurred in energy density. A significant interaction (group by time) was observed (F6, 515=2.40; P<0.05) in energy density from food only, while a significant time effect was observed for energy density from all foods and beverages (F2, 388=13.75; P<0.0001). Desirable changes were also observed in F/V-related dietary components.
Increasing F/V consumption improved energy density and diet quality considerably in preadolescent children.