School Meals: Types of Foods Offered to and Consumed by Children at Lunch and Breakfast

ArticleinJournal of the American Dietetic Association 109(2 Suppl):S67-78 · February 2009with56 Reads
DOI: 10.1016/j.jada.2008.10.062 · Source: PubMed
Children's food intakes do not meet dietary recommendations. Meals offered through the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program make substantial contributions to school-aged children's diets. This article describes foods offered in school meals and consumed by children at lunch and breakfast, and differences in foods consumed by children who did and did not participate in the school meal programs. Data were collected as part of the third School Nutrition Dietary Assessment Study, a cross-sectional, nationally representative study conducted in 2005. School menu surveys were used to identify the foods offered in school meals, and 24-hour dietary recalls were used to assess the foods children consumed. Foodservice managers in 398 public schools and 2,314 children (grades 1 to 12) from 287 of these schools participated in the study. Descriptive tabulations report percentages of daily menus that offered and percentages of children that consumed specific food groups and foods at lunch and breakfast. Two-tailed t tests were used to assess differences between school meal program participants and nonparticipants. Most school menus offered nonfat or 1% milk, fruit or 100% juice, and vegetables daily. Starchy vegetables were more common than dark green/orange vegetables or legumes. School lunch participants were significantly more likely than nonparticipants to consume milk, fruit, and vegetables, and significantly less likely to consume desserts, snack items, and beverages other than milk or 100% juice. At breakfast, participants were significantly more likely than nonparticipants to consume milk and fruit (mainly 100% juice), and significantly less likely to consume beverages other than milk or 100% juice. Consumption of school meals is positively related to children's intakes of key food groups at lunch and breakfast. Offering more fresh fruit, whole grains, and a greater variety of vegetables could lead to additional health benefits.
    • "Because of the study design, it is not possible to determine whether the change in wellness policies caused the change in ratio or the extent to which it contributed. Existing tools found during the literature review focused on the number of food items on a school lunch menu [4] or the number of portions served. [3] However, for the purpose of measuring access, this evaluation found that examining just the number of " lower fat/less added sugar " and " higher fat/more added sugar " food items on the reimbursable school lunch menus could be misleading. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Introduction: A large local health department in Colorado partnered with 15 school districts to develop an approach to evaluate changes in access to healthy foods in reimbursable school lunches and a la carte offerings. Materials and methods: School district nutrition managers were engaged at the start of this project. Health department dietitians developed criteria to classify food items as "Lower Fat and less added Sugar" (LFS) and "Higher Fat and more added Sugar" (HFS) based on the percentage of calories from fat and grams of added sugar. Lunch production sheets were obtained for two time periods, food items and the number of planned servings recorded. LFS and HFS planned servings were summed for each time period, and a LFS to HFS ratio calculated by dividing LFS planned servings by HFS planned servings. Additional analyses included calculating LFS: HFS ratios by school district, and for a la carte offerings. Results: In 2009, the LFS: HFS ratio was 2.08, in 2011, 3.71 (P<0.0001). The method also detected changes in ratios at the school district level. For a la carte items, in 2009 the ratio of LFS: HFS was 0.53, and in 2011, 0.61 (not statistically significant). Conclusions: This method detected an increase in the LFS: HFS ratio over time and demonstrated that the school districts improved access to healthful food/drink by changing the contents of reimbursable school lunches. The evaluation method discussed here can generate information that districts can use in helping sustain and expand their efforts to create healthier environments for children and adults. Although federal regulations now cover all food and beverages served during the school day, there are still opportunities to improve and measure changes in food served in other settings such as child care centers, youth correction facilities, or in schools not participating in the National School Lunch Program.
    Full-text · Article · Jan 2016
    • "This type of initiative has been implemented in the United States, where schools are often responsible for serving meals to ensure that school-aged children are able to obtain at least one healthy meal each day (United States Department of Agriculture, 2014). While research has highlighted the importance of such programmes in protecting the nutritional adequacy of children's diets (Condon, Crepinsek, & Fox, 2009), there remains the need to ensure the programmes are not undermined by the inclusion of less healthful food items (Clark & Fox, 2009; Morgan, 2006). As such, any implementation of such programmes into Australian schools would require government assurances of adequate funding, as has recently been the case in the United Kingdom (Department for Education, 2013). "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Numerous governmental and international organisations have developed nutritional guidelines outlining recommended daily intakes of fruit and vegetables (National Health and Medical Research Council 2013; World Health Organisation 2004). Australians, for example, are advised to consume 2 serves of fruit and 5 serves of vegetables each day (National Health and Medical Research Council 2013). Unfortunately, data suggests that few Australians actually meet these recommendations (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2009), placing them at a greater risk of developing cardiovascular disease (Dauchet et al. 2006; Lock et al. 2005) or receiving a diagnosis of cancer (Feskanich et al. 2000; Key 2010). Given the deleterious health outcomes associated with limited fruit and vegetable intake, considerable scholarly attention has been directed towards understanding the factors that curtail fruit and vegetable consumption in an effort to promote healthful behaviour change (Guillaumie et al. 2010; Kamphuis et al. 2006). One method that can assist in understanding these factors is to examine the beliefs associated with the consumption of adequate quantities of fruit and vegetables. From a theoretical perspective, this approach is consistent with Ajzen’s (1991) notion that beliefs ultimately underpin the enactment of behaviour. As such, understanding the beliefs associated with the consumption of fruit and vegetables may provide insights into the factors that could be targeted in social marketing campaigns aimed at improving fruit and vegetable consumption. The aim of this study was therefore to quantitatively ascertain the beliefs associated with meeting recommended intakes of fruit and vegetables.
    Chapter · Jan 2016 · PLoS ONE
    • "The schoolchildren acted as if they had a rule to eat a food presented to them, even if it was a vegetable they do not typically choose to eat. This study provided a strong test of our theory because this population does not eat many vegetables and has generally proven resistant to interventions [14, 28, 29]. In fact, less than 12% of the children here spontaneously chose carrots from the line on the Control day, indicating that the carrots were clearly not a highly preferred food. "
    [Show abstract] [Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Many people want to eat healthier, but they often fail in these attempts. We report two field studies in an elementary school cafeteria that each demonstrate children eat more of a vegetable (carrots, broccoli) when we provide it first in isolation versus alongside other more preferred foods. We propose this healthy first approach succeeds by triggering one's inherent motivation to eat a single food placed in front of them, and works even though they have prior knowledge of the full menu available and no real time constraints. Consistent with this theory, and counter to simple contrast effects, an additional lab study found that presenting a food first in isolation had the unique ability to increase intake whether the food was healthy (carrots) or less healthy (M&M's). Our findings demonstrate the effectiveness of this simple intervention in promoting healthier eating, which should interest consumers, food marketers, health professionals, and policy makers.
    Full-text · Article · Apr 2015
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