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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Middle School Student Lunch Consumption: Impact of National School Lunch Program Meal and Competitive Foods

Authors
item Cullen, Karen
item Watson, Kathleen
item Zakeri, Issa

Submitted to: Government Publication/Report
Publication Type: Government Publication
Publication Acceptance Date: February 1, 2007
Publication Date: June 1, 2007
Citation: Cullen, K., Watson, K., Zakeri, I. 2007. Middle school student lunch consumption: Impact of National School Lunch Program meal and competitive foods. USDA/ERS Contractor and Cooperator Report No. 30.

Interpretive Summary: This study assessed the contribution of the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) meal and non-NSLP foods sold in schools at lunchtime to students' lunch intake. We collected lunch food records from students in three Houston area middle schools during school year 2001-2, with information on source of each item consumed: NSLP, vending, snack bar, home, and "other." We analyzed the records to measure lunchtime consumption of nutrients and servings of food groups and tested for group differences in consumption for two student groups: those consuming more than the median of total calories from the NSLP lunch (Group 1 "mainly NSLP"), and those with less than the median of total kcal from NSLP (Group 2 "mainly non-NSLP"). Students in the "mainly NSLP" group reported higher consumption of most nutrients, milk, fruit and vegetables, and lower intakes of sweetened beverages and candy than students in the "mainly non-NSLP" group. Students in the "mainly NLSP" group also consumed more sodium, fat and saturated fat, however, and calorie intake was also higher for this group, although it was only 80% of the NSLP requirement for calories served at lunch. These results show that eating the NSLP meal is related to several positive dietary quality outcomes, but findings also support continuing efforts to reduce saturated fat and sodium in NSLP meals.

Technical Abstract: Children’s consumption of National School Lunch Program (NSLP) meals is associated with several positive dietary quality outcomes but concerns remain. Students who consumed mainly NSLP food reported higher intake of most nutrients, milk, fruits, and vegetables, and lower intakes of sweetened beverages and candy than students who consumed mainly non-NSLP food, including a la carte items, food from vending machines, and food from home. Students in the "mainly NLSP" group also consumed more sodium, fat, and saturated fat, however, and calorie intake was also higher for this group, although it was only 80% of the NSLP requirement for calories served at lunch. The findings were based on lunchtime food records collected from students in three Houston area middle schools during school year 2001-02.

Last Modified: 12/21/2014
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