BackgroundRegular fruit and vegetable (FV) consumption has been associated with reduced chronic disease risk. Evidence from adults shows a social gradient in FV consumption. Evidence from pre-adolescent children varies and there is little Canadian data. This study assessed the FV intake of school children in British Columbia (BC), Canada to determine whether socio-economic status (SES), parental and the home environment factors were related to FV consumption.MethodsAs part of the BC School Fruit and Vegetable Nutrition Program, 773 British Columbia fifth-and sixth-grade school children (Mean age 11.3 years; range 10.3-12.5) and their parents were surveyed to determine FV consumption and overall dietary intake. Students completed a web-based 24-hour dietary food recall, and a student measure of socio-economic status (The Family Affluence Scale). Parents completed a self-administered survey about their education, income, home environment and perceptions of their neighbourhood and children’s eating habits. Correlations and multiple regression analyses were used to examine the association between SES, parental and home environment factors and FV consumption.ResultsApproximately 85.8% of children in this study failed to meet minimum Canadian guidelines for FV intake (6 servings). Parent income and education were not significantly associated with child FV consumption but were associated with each other, child-reported family affluence, neighbourhood environment, access to FV, and eating at the table or in front of the television. Significant positive associations were found between FV consumption and child-reported family affluence, meal-time habits, neighbourhood environment and parent perceptions of the healthiness of their child’s diet; however, these correlations were weak (ranging from .089-.115). Multiple regression analysis showed that only child-reported family affluence significantly predicted FV consumption (std-β = 0.096 95% CI = 0.01 to 0.27).ConclusionsThe majority of children in our study were not meeting guidelines for FV intake irrespective of SES, parent perceptions or home environment, making this a population wide concern. An almost trivial socio-economic gradient was observed for the child-reported SES measure only. These results are consistent with several other studies of children. Longitudinal research is needed to further explore individual and social factors associated with FV consumption in childhood and their development over time.
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