The results did not show a significant difference in students' consumption of these items based on family income or race and ethnicity.
Findings of this study appear in the September issue of the Journal of School Health.
"Consumption of vended foods and beverages currently offered in U.S. schools is detrimental to children's diet quality," says Kakarala. "Childhood obesity, resulting from poor dietary choices, such as those found in this study, greatly increases the risk for many chronic diseases. A healthy school food environment can reduce these dietary risks."
Based on their findings, the study authors recommend school administrators design guidelines restricting vended and competitive foods and beverages to those that are rich with nutrients and not energy-dense. Additionally, school foodservice personnel can prepare point-of-service materials and displays to promote more healthful foods such as fresh fruit, yogurt, low-fat milk, juice and sandwiches.
"Targeted nutrition education to promote the importance of healthful snacks is further stressed by the Child Nutrition Actthe major federal legislation that determines school food policy and resources," Kakarala says. "These and other types of school-enforced policies can be very helpful for children in making smarter eating choices throughout the school day."
If more healthful snack options are not available in vending machines or school stores, children are at risk for poor nutrition by choosing these items over a USDA-choice lunch or a meal packed from home, Kakarala says.
|Contact: Nicole Fawcett|
University of Michigan Health System