University of Hertfordshire

By the same authors

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Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherFood Standards Agency
Number of pages27
Publication statusPublished - 2005


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.

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