Academic journal article Revista Panamericana de Salud Publica

Fruit and Vegetable Intake of Schoolchildren in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala/ Consumo De Frutas Y Vegetales En Escolares De Quetzaltenango, Guatemala

Academic journal article Revista Panamericana de Salud Publica

Fruit and Vegetable Intake of Schoolchildren in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala/ Consumo De Frutas Y Vegetales En Escolares De Quetzaltenango, Guatemala

Article excerpt

Diverse epidemiological evidence has indicated an inverse association between the risk of hypertension, vascular diseases and stroke (1), obesity (2-4), and various cancers (5, 6) and the consumption of fruit and vegetables. To promote increased consumption of these foods, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a daily intake of 400 g of fruit and vegetables in its guidelines for healthy eating (7).

Research indicates that food-related preferences and practices are formed in the earliest years of life (8), and eating fruit and vegetables at a young age can influence intake patterns in adulthood (9-11). Recent surveys suggest a large majority of schoolchildren in different regions of the world are not eating fruits or vegetables every day (11-13). Research on the effect of gender on fruit/ vegetable consumption has produced mixed results: two studies suggest that girls are more likely than boys to consume fruit and vegetables (9, 14), whereas another study finds no difference according to gender (15). More information is needed to determine if gender is an important factor in fruit and vegetable intake among children. Low socioeconomic status (LSES) has also been associated with low consumption of fruit and vegetables (8, 16-21).

Guatemala has been described as a country with a high proportion of its population reliant on foods of plant origin due to the emphasis on fruits and vegetables in the traditional diet (22, 23). The plant sources of foods consumed by children, however, have not been specified. To generate information on fruit/ vegetable consumption among children, a survey of self-reported food and beverage intake was conducted among third- and fourth-grade schoolchildren in the western highland city of Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, using an innovative pictorial-record method. This study assesses the contribution of fruit and vegetables as a percentage of the total self-reported food intake. An urban setting was chosen for the study to allow for better understanding of the early stages of the nutrition transition outside the sphere of influence of modernization that prevails in the nation's capital. The study aimed to determine if fruit and vegetable consumption among high- and low-income Quetzaltenango urban schoolchildren was adequate according to WHO recommendations of daily intake for boys and girls.



A total of 449 boys and girls attending third and fourth grade were recruited to participate in the study. The study results for LSES (low-socioeconomic status) children are based on 219 students from five public schools, whereas those for high socioeconomic status (HSES) children are based on 230 students from seven private schools.

Study sites

The study was conducted in the urban area of Quetzaltenango, the second-largest city in Guatemala, with an area of 203 [km.sup.2] and 106 528 inhabitants, located 210 km southwest of the capital of Guatemala City. The study protocol was approved by the Human Ethics Committee of CeSSIAM (Center for Studies of Sensory Impairment, Aging and Metabolism) and was also presented to local education authorities to obtain their authorization of the study. Local education authorities provided the official list of all urban elementary schools in Quetzaltenango, and prestigious private schools and various public schools were identified and selected as the source for HSES and LSES study participants, respectively. The use of school type as a proxy for family economic status was justified based on the disparity of cost for educating one school-aged child in the city, which ranged from 0 for the public schools to US $60-$120 (or 8-15% of median local household income, respectively) for private schools. In order to capture roughly equal numbers of LSES and HSES students, school selection was based on enrollment size. Out of 16 public and private schools invited to participate in the study, 12 agreed to participate. …

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