Public Health Nutrition

Research Article

Exploring changes in middle-school student lunch consumption after local school food service policy modifications

Karen Weber Cullena1 c1, Kathy Watsona1, Issa Zakeria1 and Katherine Ralstona2

a1 Children's Nutrition Research Center, Department of Pediatrics, Baylor College of Medicine, 1100 Bates Street, Houston, TX 77030-2600, USA

a2 Economic Research Service, US Department of Agriculture, 1800 M Street NW Room N2183, Washington, DC 20036-5831, USA


Objective This study assessed the impact of changes in school food policy on student lunch consumption in middle schools

Methods Two years of lunch food records were collected from students at three middle schools in the Houston, Texas area. During the first year, no changes occurred in the school food environment. After that school year was completed, chips and dessert foods were removed from the snack bars of all schools by the Food Service Director. Students recorded the amount and source of food and beverage items consumed. Point-of-service purchase machines provided a day-by-day electronic data file with food and beverage purchases from the snack bars during the 2-year period. Independent t-tests and time series analyses were used to document the impact of the policy change on consumption and sales data between the two years

Results In general, student consumption of sweetened beverages declined and milk, calcium, vitamin A, saturated fat and sodium increased after the policy change. Snack chips consumption from the snack bar declined in year 2; however, consumption of snack chips and candy from vending increased and the number of vending machines in study schools doubled during the study period. Ice cream sales increased significantly in year 2

Conclusions Policy changes on foods sold in schools can result in changes in student consumption from the targeted environments. However, if all environments do not make similar changes, compensation may occur

(Received December 30 2004)

(Accepted September 14 2005)


c1 *Corresponding author: Email