A kitchen-based intervention to improve nutritional intake from school lunches in children aged 12-16 years

Angela Madden, Rebecca Harrex, Joanna Radalowicz, Dianne Boaden, Jin Lim, Ruth Ash

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Background: School lunches potentially provide an important source of nutrients for children but studies have shown that their food choices are not always associated with health benefits. This study aimed to evaluate the effects of a kitchen-based intervention on intake from school lunches.
Method: The 3-phase study comprised a pre-intervention observation, the intervention itself and a post-intervention observation. Children aged 12-16 years attending a large, inner-city, secondary school in London were invited to participate. The intervention consisted of small, practical changes to the school menu with the purpose of reducing total and saturated fat and increasing fruit and vegetable consumption. Intake was evaluated using a weighed technique.
Results: One hundred and eighty and 198 children participated in the pre- and post-intervention phases respectively. After the intervention, a significant reduction was observed in mean intake of total fat (44 ± 8 vs 40 ± 9 % total energy, P<0.01) and of saturated fat (13 ± 6 vs 10 ± 6 %, P<0.01). The children also ate significantly more fruit and vegetables (12.0 ± 10.4 vs 30.0 ± 30.5 g total weight, P<0.05). However after the intervention, the mean intakes of total and saturated fat, fruit and vegetables were still significantly below the Caroline Walker Trust guidelines for school lunches.
Conclusion: The study showed that total and saturated fat and fruit and vegetable intake from school lunches can be significantly improved by a short, kitchen-based intervention. Although the benefits were limited, the results support further work in this area.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)243-251
JournalJournal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics
Issue number3
Early online date11 Apr 2013
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013


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