185272 It's not easy eating greens: Food consumption of elementary school students

Wednesday, October 29, 2008: 11:30 AM

Stephanie Albert, MPA , Center for Health and Public Service Research, New York University, New York, NY
Carolyn Berry, PhD , Center for Health and Public Service Research, New York University, New York, NY
Background. The childhood obesity epidemic has spurred a range of school-based interventions aimed at changing the dietary habits of children. The SchoolFood Plus (SFP) initiative in NYC public schools is a program designed to improve the eating habits of low-income, ethnic/racial minority children at risk for poor nutrition and obesity. A major component of SFP includes significant changes to the school lunch program. This study reports 2nd year evaluation findings assessing consumption of specific SFP recipes served in school cafeterias.

Methods. A quasi-experimental pre-post design compared three school conditions: minimal change in lunch side dishes, substantial change in lunch side dishes, and substantial change in lunch sides plus educational program components. Digital photography assessed consumption of school lunches by second and fifth graders.

Results. 1,240 lunch trays were assessed. 60% of lunch trays included the SFP recipes (N=744), and of these only 15% had any of the recipe consumed. Logistic regression showed no differences in consumption of SFP recipes based on consumption of the main entrée or fruit. Moreover, intervention condition, grade, gender or time did not appear to affect eating. Race was the only significant predictor; Black students had 7 times the odds of eating the SFP recipe as compared to Whites/Others.

Discussion. School environmental change is a popular approach to combating childhood obesity. Findings demonstrate limitations to this approach. Few children ate any of the new recipes suggesting exposure and accessibility are insufficient mechanisms to lead to change. Foods must also be acceptable to reach desired outcomes.

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe one large city’s approach to environmental change designed to enhance the nutrition of children. 2. Identify limitations of this approach in effecting change in consumption. 3. Assess the implementation challenges of this approach.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the project director of a multi-year large-scale primary data collection effort in NYC researching the knowledge, attitudes and behaviors regarding food of elementary school age children. In the role of project director I am responsible for all aspects of the evaluation including research design, developing surveys, overseeing data collection efforts, analyzing data, and writing reports. I have served in this position for roughly four years.
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.