Using smart card technology to monitor the eating habits of children in a school cafeteria: 3. The nutritional significance of beverage and dessert choices
Article first published online: 5 JUL 2005
Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics
Volume 18, Issue 4, pages 271–279, August 2005
How to Cite
Lambert, N., Plumb, J., Looise, B., Johnson, I. T., Harvey, I., Wheeler, C., Robinson, M. and Rolfe, P. (2005), Using smart card technology to monitor the eating habits of children in a school cafeteria: 3. The nutritional significance of beverage and dessert choices. Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, 18: 271–279. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-277X.2005.00619.x
- Issue published online: 5 JUL 2005
- Article first published online: 5 JUL 2005
- monitoring food choice;
- school meals;
- smart cards
Objective The consumption patterns of beverages and desserts features highly in the current debate surrounding children's nutrition. The aim of this study was to continuously monitor the choice of beverages and desserts made by nearly 1000 children in a school cafeteria.
Methods A newly developed smart card system was used to monitor the food choices of diners (7–16-year-old boys) in a school cafeteria over 89 days. A wide variety of beverages and desserts were on offer daily.
Results Despite coming from an affluent, well-educated demographic group, the boys’ choices of beverages and desserts mirrored those of children in general. Buns and cookies were over 10 times more popular than fresh fruits and yogurts. Sugary soft-drinks were over 20 times more popular than fresh fruit drinks and milk combined. Appropriate choices could, over a month, reduce intake of added sugar by over 800 g and fat by over 200 g.
Conclusion The smart card system was very effective at monitoring total product choices for nearly 1000 diners. In agreement with a recent national school meal survey, where choice is extensive, children show a preference for products high in fat and/or sugar. The consequences of these preferences are discussed.