A new study reveals that “Color Me Healthy” nutrition education may be effective in increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables among preschoolers.

Color Me Healthy is a nutrition education program for preschoolers that was developed in North Carolina and first used in 2002. The program encourages greater fruit and vegetable consumption and emphasizes physical activity.

In an article called “Increasing Fruit and Vegetable Consumption among Preschoolers: Evaluation of Color Me Healthy” published in the Sept. 12 issue of the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, authors Kendra Witt and Carolyn Dunn found that the Color Me Healthy program was effective.

“Children who received Color Me Healthy significantly increased their consumption of fruit snacks by approximately 20.8% and vegetable snacks by approximately 33.1% between baseline assessment and the assessment conducted 3 months after the completion of the program,” an abstract of the article said.

The modeling found that participation in the program was the only significant predictor of fruit and vegetable consumption.

“Findings suggest that Color Me Healthy may be used in child care settings for developing healthful eating habits,” the authors said in the abstract.

More than 260 preschool children in 17 child care centers were part of the study, in which data were collected at baseline, one week post intervention and three months post-intervention. Some preschoolers received the Color Me Healthy curriculum while another group of preschoolers in the control group did not.

Child care providers are important in modeling fruit and vegetable consumption, said Tracy Fox, president of Food, Nutrition & Policy Consultants LLC, Washington, D.C.

“We have been pushing for more efforts in the child care arena, because we know that kids at that age haven’t quite established their tastes and habits yet, so it makes sense there is an opportunity to influence them,” she said.