184529 Decision support tool for implementing school food policy

Monday, October 27, 2008: 11:15 AM

Christopher Jarosz, PhD , County of Los Angeles, Department of Public Health, Physical Activity and Senior Health Programs, Los Angeles, CA
Joyce Nakashima, MS, RD , California Department of Public Health, California Project LEAN, Sacramento, CA
In 2007, California implemented two laws, State Bills 12 and 965, to restrict the sale of low-nutrition snack foods, a la carte entrées, and sugared drinks in public schools including vending machines, student stores, and cafeterias. The criteria for permissible snacks are based on calories from fat, calories from saturated fat, percent sugar by weight, and total calories. Some items are exempted from the fat content criterion such as nuts, legumes, and prepackaged cheeses. The criteria for entrées include fat content and total calories. Each entrée must also qualify under the federal meal program. The decision criteria for beverages are simpler, but still would require schools to follow a series of decision steps. To automate the complexities of the food and beverage decision-making process by school staff and food service personnel, we developed a ruled-based, decision support tool using standard office software. The tool permits the analysis of entire food and beverage lists instead of just single items. One challenge was to combine the complex decision logic with added logic to override preliminary and spurious results while all information is being entered about an item. The tool has been piloted in a school district in California. It has also been adapted to the selection of food items that meet healthy snack criteria for vending machines in other environments. We will demonstrate the decision support tool and its logic, and discuss other potential uses by schools, nutritionists, and others involved in implementing school food policies.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe how complex nutritional policies can be embedded in a low-cost and user-friendly decision support tool. 2. Demonstrate the tool and its logic, and how it could be extended to implementing other school food policies.

Keywords: Food and Nutrition, Decision-Making

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a Registered Dietitian and have a Master of Science Degree in Nutrition. I have been working on implementing nutrition standards for a few years, and have worked with California Project LEAN on trainings to teach others how to identify SB12 and SB986 compliant foods. I also worked on the LA County Food Policy and developed a similar type of tool for implementing their nutrition standards.
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.