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Public Health Nutr. 2009 May;12(5):693-701. doi: 10.1017/S1368980008002954. Epub 2008 Jul 29.

A pilot study of the effect of providing daily free fruit to primary-school children in Auckland, New Zealand.

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Institute of Food Nutrition and Human Health, Massey University, SH 16 Albany, Auckland, New Zealand.



To determine the uptake of a free fruit provision to low-decile primary-school children by quantitatively assessing changes in fruit intake.


A randomised controlled trial using a paired, cluster randomisation.


Twenty low-decile primary schools (schools attended by the most deprived children) in Auckland, New Zealand.


In total 2032 children, aged 7-11 years, provided data on at least one occasion.


Ten pairs of low-decile primary schools matched by roll size and location were randomly allocated to control (no free fruit) or intervention (free fruit) for a school term. Dietary assessments using the 24 h recall methodology were made at baseline, on the last week of the intervention and 6 weeks post-intervention.


Fruit intakes in this cohort were lower than the national average with over 40 % reporting no fruit intake at baseline and did not differ between groups. After the free fruit period the intervention group increased school fruit intakes by 0.39 pieces/school d from baseline (P < or = 0.001) and the proportion of children consuming no fruit reduced to 22 %. This increase, however, was not sustained and fruit intakes fell below baseline levels at 6 weeks post-intervention. Control subjects did not significantly alter their fruit intakes throughout the study.


Improving exposure and accessibility to fruits at school increases fruit intakes of low socio-economic group children, particularly those who do not normally eat fruit. The present pilot study demonstrates some possible negative effects of short-term free fruit interventions, but is informative for developing and evaluating sustained fruit intervention programmes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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