177725 What is available to eat and drink in America's elementary schools

Wednesday, October 29, 2008: 9:00 AM

Punam Ohri-Vachaspati, PhD, RD, LD , Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Princeton, NJ
Frank Chaloupka, PhD , Institute for Health Research and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Lindsey Turner, PhD , Institute for Health Research and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Background: High rates of childhood obesity warrant changes in the systems and institutions that impact children's energy balance. Schools present significant opportunities for brining about changes in nutritional quality of foods consumed by children. About 95% of children are enrolled in schools and many consume two thirds of their calorie needs through school meals programs. Additional calories are consumed through items sold as competitive foods. Methodology: Data were collected in 2007 from a nationally representative sample of 837 public and private elementary schools on types of foods available for consumption at different venues, times of the day when these foods are available, and frequency of their availability. A mail in survey was used with a response rate of 57.7%. Findings: Preliminary results from the study reveal that nationally about 70% of the children eat lunch offered by schools. Ninety-four percent of the elementary schools offer school lunches, 40% have a-la-carte options and 20% have vending machines or school stores selling beverages and snacks. Regular soda is available in 31% of the vending machines and 12% of the stores in elementary schools. Whole milk is available at 71% of the schools as part of lunch and at 54% as an a-la-carte option. Data will be presented for schools nationally and by demographic characteristics including income and racial/ethnic enrollment. Conclusion: There is a large variation in the types of food offered by schools. This study will help identify specific areas where changes are needed to improve the energy balance among school children.

Learning Objectives:
At the end of the session participants will be able to a. Describe the types of foods available at different venues within schools. b. Identify relationships between availability of different types of foods and the regional location and demographic characteristics of schools. c. Prioritize areas where changes need to be made in schools in their communities.

Keywords: School Health, Food and Nutrition

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I led the analysis and development of this presentation
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.