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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Exploring changes in middle-school student lunch consumption after local school food service policy modifications

Authors
item Cullen, Karen
item Watson, Kathleen
item Zakeri, Issa
item Ralston, Katherine - USDA/ERS

Submitted to: Public Health Nutrition
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: September 14, 2005
Publication Date: September 1, 2006
Citation: Cullen, K.W., Watson, K., Zakeri, I., Ralston, K. 2006. Exploring changes in middle-school student lunch consumption after local school food service policy modifications. Public Health Nutrition. 9(6):814-820.

Interpretive Summary: This study looked at the impact of school food policy changes on student lunch consumption in middle schools. Middle school students completed two years of lunch food records. During the first year, no changes occurred in the school food environment. After that school year was completed, chips and dessert foods were removed from the snack bars for all schools by the Food Service Director. We analyzed the impact of the policy change on consumption and sales data between the two years. In general, students drank less sweetened beverages and more milk. Calcium, vitamin A, saturated fat and sodium increased after the policy change. Policy changes on foods sold in schools can result in changes in student consumption from the targeted environments. However, if all environments do not make similar changes, students may purchase desired food items from those sources.

Technical Abstract: This study assessed the impact of changes in school food policy on student lunch consumption in middle schools. Two years of lunch food records were collected from students at three middle schools in the Houston, Texas area. During the first year, no changes occurred in the school food environment. After that school year was completed, chips and dessert foods were removed from the snack bars for all schools by the Food Service Director. Students recorded amount and source of food and beverage items consumed. Point of service purchase machines provided a day-by-day electronic data file with food and beverage purchases from the snack bars during the two-year period. Independent t-tests and time series analyses were used to document the impact of the policy change on consumption and sales data between the two years. In general, student consumption of sweetened beverages declined and milk, calcium, vitamin A, saturated fat and sodium increased after the policy change. Snack chips consumption from the snack bar declined in year 2; however, consumption of snack chips and candy from vending increased and the number of vending machines in study schools doubled during the study period. Ice cream sales increased significantly in year 2. Policy changes on foods sold in schools can result in changes in student consumption from the targeted environments. However, if all environments do not make similar changes, compensation may occur.

Last Modified: 7/22/2014
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