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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

Title: Impact of a School Nutrition Policy to Middle School Students Dietary Energy Density

item Mendoza, Jason
item Watson, Kathleen
item Cullen, Karen

Submitted to: Pediatric Academic Society
Publication Type: Abstract Only
Publication Acceptance Date: 2/1/2008
Publication Date: 5/1/2008
Citation: Mendoza, J.A., Watson, K., Cullen, K. 2008. Impact of a school nutrition policy to middle school students dietary energy density [abstract]. Pediatric Academic Societies. Abstract No. 5508.6. Available:

Interpretive Summary:

Technical Abstract: The consumption of energy-dense foods has been associated with rising obesity rates and linked to the metabolic syndrome. Reducing dietary energy density (DED) is an important strategy to address obesity, but few studies have examined the effect of nutrition policies on children's DED. The Texas Public School Nutrition Policy was designed to promote a healthy school environment by restricting (1) portion sizes of high fat and sugar snacks and sweetened beverages, (2) the fat content of foods, and (3) the serving of high fat vegetables like French fries. We sought to assess the impact of the Texas Public School Nutrition Policy on childrens DED. We collected two years of lunch food records from middle school students in Southeast Texas at three public middle schools: baseline (2001-2002) and one year after implementation of the Texas Policy (2005-2006). Students recorded the amount and source of foods consumed. DED was calculated based on foods only, without beverages (total kcal divided by total grams of food). Analysis of variance/covariance and nonparametric tests compared DED after the Texas policy change to intakes at baseline. Following implementation of the Texas Policy, students' DED significantly decreased from 2.50 +/- 0.87 kcal/g to 2.04 +/- 0.75 kcal/g (P<0.001). Students from the high and moderate socio-economic status (SES) schools reported significant reductions in DED (P<0.05) while those from low SES schools did not. The Texas Public School Nutrition Policy was associated with desirable reductions in DED, particularly at moderate and high SES middle schools, which indicates improved student lunch consumption.

Last Modified: 06/22/2017
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