Improving School Meals in the London Borough of Southwark: an evaluation of a healthy eating intervention

Angela Madden, Ruth Ash, Rebecca Harrex, Joanna Radalowicz

    Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


    School meals have the potential to provide an important source of good nutrition
    for young people. However, published evidence shows that most children do not
    make healthy choices when offered food at school and this suggests that they
    may benefit from a health intervention to optimise their dietary intake. The aim of
    the present study was to evaluate an intervention undertaken to improve healthy
    food choices made by children eating at school.

    The food consumed by children in the school dining area was evaluated before
    and after the intervention by examining their trays at the start of the meal and
    weighing any leftovers. Mean energy, macronutrient and fruit and vegetable intake were determined and the differences between the two periods compared.

    Completed records were obtained from 180 children before and 198 after the
    intervention. A significant reduction in mean energy, protein, fat and
    carbohydrate intake was observed after the intervention while the children also
    ate significantly more fruit and vegetables (12.0 ± 10.4 vs 30.0 ± 30.5 g / day,
    P<0.05). However, in spite of these improvements, the mean intake of fat
    remained high (40 ± 9% of total energy) and the total amount of fruit and
    vegetables consumed remained low.

    The study showed that nutritional intake from school meals can be significantly improved by an intervention. Although the benefits observed were somewhat limited, the results suggest that further attempts to optimise school meals should be investigated.
    Original languageEnglish
    Place of PublicationLondon
    PublisherFood Standards Agency
    Number of pages27
    Publication statusPublished - 2005


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