Free fruit has been given to young pupils for three years .
A government scheme offering free fruit and vegetables to school children has increased healthy eating, suggests research.
The survey from the National Foundation for Educational Research says it has helped more pupils eat five portions of fruit and vegetable daily.
The survey from the National Foundation for Educational Research says it has helped thousands more pupils eat five portions of fruit and vegetable daily.
Under the School Fruit and Vegetable Scheme (SFVS), introduced by the government in 2004, all four to six-year-old children in state infant, primary and special schools are entitled to a free piece of fruit or vegetable each day.
An evaluation of the scheme, carried out across 37 schools in north-east England by the National Foundation of Educational Research, concluded the number of children eating their five-a-day has increased substantially.
They compared food diaries and questionnaires of more than 1,600 children taking part in the scheme in the north-east in March 2004 with nearly 2,000 different children in November 2006.
They found 32% of children eating five portions of fruit and vegetables in 2004, compared with 44% of children in the 2006 study.
The researchers observed: "It should be noted that the largest increase was in vegetable consumption, not fruit, which may indicate that changes in school meals had a greater impact."
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