Background: Less than 2% of children in the U.S., ages 9-13, meet the minimum dietary recommendations for vegetable intake. The home setting provides potential opportunities to promote dietary behavior change among children, yet limited trials exist with child vegetable intake as a primary outcome. Strategies to increase vegetable intake grounded in behavioral economics are no/low cost and may be easily implemented in the home by parents. Methods: This non-randomized, controlled study tested whether an intervention of parent-led strategies informed by behavioral economics and implemented within a series of 6 weekly parent-child vegetable cooking skills classes, improved dietary outcomes of a diverse sample of low-income children (ages 9-12) more than the vegetable cooking skills classes alone. The primary outcomes were total vegetable intake, dietary quality (HEI scores), total energy intake, vegetable liking, variety of vegetables tried, child BMI-z score, and home availability of vegetables. Outcome measures were collected at baseline, immediate post-treatment, 6 and 12 months follow-up. Mixed model regression analyses with fixed independent effects (treatment condition, time point and treatment condition x time interaction) were used to compare outcomes between treatment conditions. Results: A total of 103 parent/child pairs (intervention = 49, control = 54) were enrolled and 91 (intervention = 44, control = 47) completed the weekly cooking skills program. The intervention did not improve child total vegetable intake. Intervention children increased dark green vegetable intake from immediate post-treatment to 12 months. The number of vegetables children tried increased and mean vegetable liking decreased over time for both control and intervention children. Conclusions: Findings from this study suggest that the strategies and the manner in which they were implemented may not be effective in low-income populations. The burden of implementing a number of strategies with potentially higher food costs may have constrained the ability of families in the current study to use the strategies as intended. Trial registration: This trial has been retrospectively registered at: # NCT03641521 on August 21, 2018.
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© 2019 The Author(s).
- Behavioral economics
- Vegetable intake