Some long-term benefit from Food Dudes, Irish study finds

A campaign to increase schoolchildren's fruit and vegetable intake, implemented the UK, US and Europe but most extensively in Ireland, has shown some long-term benefit, according to an Irish study.

Image: USDA (CC BY 2.0)
Image: USDA (CC BY 2.0)

The part-EU funded Food Dudes programme was initially implemented in over 95% of the Republic's schools, while a follow-up Food Dudes Boost programme has run in over 700 schools and reached more than 120,000 pupils in the current school year.

The long-term evaluation of the programme, undertaken by University College Dublin, found that:

  • The share of pupils bringing one or more portions of fruit to school rose from 54% prior to the 2010 intervention, to 83% immediately afterwards. This had falled back to 67% by 2016, but rose again slightly to 75% following the Food Dudes Boost programme;
  • Just 6% of pupils brought one or more portions of vegetables to school prior to the 2010 intervention, rising sharply thereafter to 57%. By 2016, the percentage had decreased to 12% but increased agin to 27% after the Boost programme.

Ireland's minister for agriculture, food and the marine Michael Creed TD said: "The report confirms the programme has a positive long-term impact on the behaviour of primary school children, encouraging them to eat more fruit and vegetables both in school and at home, and helping them develop a liking for these foods."

The Food Dudes programme was rolled out only sporadically in the UK via local public health bodies, despite extensive support from UK growers.

Its developer, a spin-off company from Bangor University, went into liquidation last month, with the university blaming public sector funding cuts.

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