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Interventions designed to increase adult fruit and vegetable intake can be effective: a systematic review of the literature.

The Journal of Nutrition

Vegetables, Cardiovascular Diseases, diet therapy, prevention & control, Food Habits, Fruit, Humans, Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic

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      Abstract

      International recommendations advise increasing intakes of fruit and vegetables to help reduce the burden of chronic diseases worldwide. This project systematically reviewed evidence on the effectiveness of interventions and programs promoting fruit and/or vegetable intake in adults. In April 2004, we contacted experts in the field and searched 14 publication databases. We considered all papers published in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Russian, Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish, and reporting on interventions and promotion programs encouraging higher intakes of fruit and/or vegetables in free-living not acutely ill adults, with follow-up periods > or = 3 mo, that measured change in intake and had a control group. Forty-four studies (mainly from developed countries) were included in the review and stratified by study setting. Larger effects were generally observed in individuals with preexisting health disorders. In primary prevention interventions in healthy adults, fruit and vegetable intake was increased by approximately 0.1-1.4 serving/d. Consistent positive effects were seen in studies involving face-to-face education or counseling, but interventions using telephone contacts or computer-tailored information appeared to be a reasonable alternative. Community-based multicomponent interventions also had positive findings. This literature review suggests that small increases in fruit and vegetable intake are possible in population subgroups, and that these can be achieved by a variety of approaches. More research is required to examine the effectiveness of specific components of interventions in different populations, particularly less developed countries. There is also a need for a better assessment of the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of large community-based interventions.

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