Nutritional Quality of the Diets of US Public School Children and the Role of the School Meal Programs

Mathematica Policy Research, Inc, PO Box 2393, Princeton, NJ 08543, USA.
Journal of the American Dietetic Association (Impact Factor: 3.92). 02/2009; 109(2 Suppl):S44-56. DOI: 10.1016/j.jada.2008.10.060
Source: PubMed


Good nutrition is essential to healthy childhood. Because the school meal programs--the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program--are so widely available, they are in a unique position to influence the nutritional quality of children's diets.
This article assesses the nutritional quality of the diets of US public school children and explores the relationship between children's participation in the school meal programs and the nutritional quality of their diets.
Data were collected as part of the third School Nutrition Dietary Assessment Study (SNDA-III), a nationally representative study fielded during school year 2004-2005. Data on children's dietary intakes were collected through in-person 24-hour dietary recalls. Nutritional quality of children's diets was assessed by estimating the prevalence of inadequate and excessive intakes of energy and nutrients.
The analysis is based on a nationally representative sample of 2,314 children in grades 1 through 12 from 287 public schools.
Nutrient adequacy and excess were assessed by comparing usual nutrient intake distributions to Dietary Reference Intakes and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2005. Propensity score matching was used to examine the relationship between school meal program participation and the prevalence of inadequate and excessive intakes.
The majority of public school children in the United States had nutritionally adequate diets, but 80% had excessive intakes of saturated fat and 92% had excessive intakes of sodium. School meal program participation was associated with reduced prevalence of nutrient inadequacy but with increased prevalence of excessive sodium intakes.
School meal programs play an important role in the nutritional adequacy of children's diets. However, the association between program participation and excessive sodium intakes, along with the high prevalence of excessive saturated fat intakes among all students, suggest areas for improvement in the meals these programs provide.

1 Follower
12 Reads
  • Source
    • "The prevalence of inadequate vitamin and mineral intakes was generally low (<3%) in the SNAD-III, except for calcium and vitamins D and E. Most American children (96%) had sodium intake greater than the upper tolerated level [32]. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: To estimate the nutritional risk in children 2 to 6 y old. The sample consisted of 3058 children enrolled in public and private schools in nine Brazilian cities. The assessment of nutrient intake was based on 1-d data combining direct individual weighing of foods and a food diary. A second evaluation of food consumption was conducted in a subsample to estimate the usual intake. There was low prevalence of inadequate intake of vitamin B6 (<0.001%), riboflavin (<0.001%), niacin (<0.001%), thiamin (<0.001%), folate (<0.001%), phosphorus (<0.1%), magnesium (<0.1%), iron (<0.5%), copper (<0.001%), zinc (<0.5%), and selenium (<0.001%). However, 22% of children younger than 4 y and 5% of children older than 4 y consumed fiber quantities larger than the adequate intake. Approximately 30% of the sample consumed more saturated fat than recommended. The prevalence of inadequate vitamin E intake ranged from 15% to 29%. More than 90% of the children had an inadequate vitamin D intake. In children older than 4 y, the prevalence of inadequate calcium intake was approximately 45%. Sodium intake was higher than the upper intake level in 90% of children younger than 4 y and 73% of children older than 4 y. The prevalence of inadequate dietary intake was low for most nutrients. However, fiber, calcium, and vitamin D and E intakes were lower than recommended. Moreover, children consumed large amounts of sodium and saturated fat.
    Nutrition 02/2013; 29(2):405-10. DOI:10.1016/j.nut.2012.06.012 · 2.93 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "More students responded that school meal was saltier than home-made meal in the order of high, middle, and elementary schools. It has been reported that school meal program participation was associated with increased prevalence of excessive sodium intakes [19]. On average, school meal participants consumed roughly 200 mg more sodium at lunch than matched non-participants did, which was statistically significant and observed for all elementary, middle, and high schools. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: Excessive sodium intake leading to hypertension, stroke, and stomach cancer is mainly caused by excess use of salt in cooking. This study was performed to estimate the salt content in school meals and to compare differences in perceptions related to sodium intake between students and staffs working for school meal service. We collected 382 dishes for food from 24 schools (9 elementary, 7 middle, 8 high schools) in Gyeonggi-do and salt content was calculated from salinity and weight of individual food. The average salt content from elementary, middle, and high school meals were 2.44 g, 3.96 g, and 5.87 g, respectively. The amount of salt provided from the school lunch alone was over 80% of the recommended daily salt intake by WHO. Noodles, stews, sauces, and soups were major sources of salt intake at dish group level, while the most salty dishes were sauces, kimchies, and stir-fried foods. Dietary knowledge and attitude related to sodium intake and consumption frequency of the salty dishes were surveyed with questionnaire in 798 students and 256 staffs working for school meal service. Compared with the staffs, the students perceived school meals salty and the proportions of students who thought school meals were salty increased with going up from elementary to high schools (P < 0.001). Among the students, middle and high school students showed significant propensity for the preference to one-dish meal, processed foods, eating much broth and dipping sauce or seasoning compared with the elementary students, although they had higher nutrition knowledge scores. These results proposed that monitoring salt content of school meals and consideration on the contents and education methods in school are needed to lower sodium intake.
    Nutrition research and practice 02/2013; 7(1):59-65. DOI:10.4162/nrp.2013.7.1.59 · 1.44 Impact Factor
  • Source
    • "Despite these relatively lax standards, two-thirds of school lunches exceed the maximum amount of fat and saturated fat (Crepinsek et al. 2009), and 99% of all school meals fail to meet the federal requirements due an excess of saturated fat (Burghardt et al. 1995). As a result, 80% of students who participate in school food programs have excess saturated fat intake, and 92% of students consume excess sodium (Clark & Fox 2009). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
    ABSTRACT: There is a pressing need to reduce both the prevalence and impact of obesity. This review begins with a discussion of the roles of treatment and prevention. Two overriding issues, weight bias and the addictive nature of food, are covered because of their importance not only to the individuals affected but also to public policy. We then cover promising policy areas in which changes can be implemented to support healthy behaviors: school policy, food marketing, food labeling and packaging, and taxes on unhealthy foods. The roles of the food industry and federal, state, and local governments are also discussed.
    Annual Review of Clinical Psychology 01/2012; 8(1):405-30. DOI:10.1146/annurev-clinpsy-032511-143129 · 12.67 Impact Factor
Show more

Similar Publications