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Keywords:

  • school food services;
  • nutrition and diet;
  • child and adolescent health

BACKGOUND: The HEALTHY primary prevention trial developed an integrated multicomponent intervention program to moderate risk factors for type 2 diabetes in middle schools. The nutrition component aimed to improve the quality of foods and beverages served to students. Changes in the School Breakfast Program (SBP), National School Lunch Program (NSLP), and à la carte venues are compared to the experience of control schools.

METHODS: The intervention was implemented in 21 middle schools from winter 2007 through spring 2009 (following a cohort of students from sixth through eighth grades); 21 schools acted as observed controls. The nutrition component targeted school food service environmental change. Data identifying foods and nutrients served (selected by students for consumption) were collected over a 20-day period at baseline and end of study. Analysis compared end of study values for intervention versus control schools.

RESULTS: Intervention schools more successfully limited dessert and snack food portion size in NSLP and à la carte and lowered fat content of foods served. Servings of high-fiber grain-based foods and/or legumes were improved in SBP but not NSLP. Intervention and control schools eliminated >1% fat milk and added-sugar beverages in SBP, but intervention schools were more successful in NSLP and à la carte.

CONCLUSION: The HEALTHY program demonstrated significant changes in the nutritional quality of foods and beverages served in the SBP, NSLP, and à la carte venues, as part of an effort to decrease childhood obesity and support beneficial effects in some secondary HEALTHY study outcomes.