Submitted to: American Journal of Public Health
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 12/1/2003
Publication Date: 3/1/2004
Citation: Cullen, K., Zakeri, I. 2004. Fruit, vegetables, milk, and sweetened beverages consumption and access to a la carte/snack bar meals at school. American Journal of Public Health. 94(3):463-7. Interpretive Summary: Middle school students with access to school snack bars are more likely to drink soda and eat fried foods and consume fewer fruits and vegetables compared to students who don't have such snack bar access. A study of 594 fourth- and fifth-grade students found that in the time a student graduated from elementary school and went to a middle school with a snack bar, consumption of fruits, vegetables and milk decreased 33%, 42% and 35%, respectively. In the same time period, servings of high-fat vegetables such as french fries and potato chips and sweetened beverages went up 68% and 62%.
Technical Abstract: The objective of this study was to assess the impact of access to school snack bars on middle school students' fruit, vegetable, milk, and sweetened beverage consumption. 594 fourth- and fifth-grade students completed lunch food records four times over two years. The fourth-grade cohort consumed 30% less fruit, 42% less regular vegetables, and 35% less milk and 68% more sweetened beverages and 62% more high fat vegetables in year two. Middle school students who gained access to school snack bars consumed less healthy foods compared with the previous school year when they were in elementary schools and only had access to school lunch meals. Interventions should promote healthy food choices or school policies are needed to have healthier foods available on school snack bars.