Impact of School Nutrition Efforts

December 9/Education Letter -- According to recent research from the U.S., "Removing low-nutrition snacks from schools is controversial. Although the objective is to decrease the consumption of these foods at school, some critics argue that children will compensate by eating more of these foods at home."

"Others worry that school-based obesity prevention programs will increase student preoccupation with weight. The present study examines these concerns. Three middle schools replaced snacks and beverages that did not meet nutrition guidelines, whereas three comparison schools made no systematic changes. Students were surveyed about dietary intake and weight concerns before and after implementation of the intervention," wrote M.B. Schwartz and colleagues, Yale University.

The researchers concluded, "Indicate that removing low nutrition items from schools decreased students' consumption with no compensatory increase at home. Furthermore, there were no differences in students' reported weight concerns. These results support the value of strengthening school nutrition standards to improve student nutrition and provide evidence dispelling concerns that such efforts will have unintended negative consequences."

Schwartz and colleagues published their study in Health Education & Behavior ("The Impact of Removing Snacks of Low Nutritional Value From Middle Schools." Health Education & Behavior, 2009;36(6):999-1011).

For additional information, contact M.B. Schwartz, Yale University, Rudd Center Food Policy & Obes, New Haven, CT 06520.

From the December 21, 2009, Prepared Foods E-dition