Fruit and vegetable consumption is low in the Netherlands and a key target in healthy diet promotion. However, hardly any information is available on differences in fruit and vegetable consumption between Dutch children and ethnic minority children. Therefore, the aim of present study was to determine differences in usual fruit and vegetable intake between native Dutch and non-Western ethnic minority children and to study differences in and mediating effects of potential psychosocial and environmental determinants.
Ethnicity, usual fruit and vegetable consumption, psychosocial and environmental determinants and mothers' educational level were measured with a self-administered questionnaire during school hours in primary schools in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Complete data was available for 521 10–11 year-old-children, of which 50.5% of non-Western origin. Differences between the groups regarding potential determinants and fruit and vegetable intake were assessed with Mann Whitney tests or multiple regression analyses. Multiple regression analyses were also conducted to assess mediating effects.
Ethnic minority girls ate fruit more frequently (1.41 ± 1.0 times/day) than Dutch girls (1.03 ± 0.82 times/day); no differences in frequency of intake were found for vegetables or among boys. Ethnic differences were found for almost all potential determinants. The Dutch children reported lower scores on these determinants than the ethnic minority children, except for perceived self-efficacy and barriers to eat fruit and vegetables. Knowledge of recommendations and facilitating behaviors of the parents mediated the association between ethnicity and fruit consumption among girls.
Ethnic minority girls in the Netherlands appear to have more favorable fruit intakes than Dutch girls, and ethnic minority children in general show more positive prerequisites for fruit and vegetable consumption. Interventions addressing multi-ethnic populations of children must take such differences into account.