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J Am Diet Assoc. 2005 Feb;105(2):215-20.

Competitive foods increase the intake of energy and decrease the intake of certain nutrients by adolescents consuming school lunch.

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  • 1Department of Land Grant Programs, Kentucky State University, 400 East Main St, Frankfort, KY 40601, USA.



To determine the influence of competitive foods on energy and nutrient intakes of adolescents participating in a school lunch program.


Weighed plate waste data were used to assess the energy and nutrient consumption from school lunch menus items and competitive food items chosen and consumed by adolescents. The two test groups were students choosing competitive foods and those choosing no competitive foods.


Participants were sixth-grade students aged 11 to 13 years purchasing lunch in three public middle school cafeterias in Franklin County, KY (n=493 for no competitive foods and n=250 for competitive foods). The data were collected over 24 days in 2 school years.


Significant differences between the competitive foods and no competitive foods groups were determined using frequency and analysis of variance procedures.


The data indicate that sixth-grade adolescents consumed energy and other nutrients (except iron) at significantly lower than recommended levels; one third of students purchasing school lunch also purchased competitive food items; competitive foods purchasers reduced their school lunch servings, portion weight and/or item selection and increased school lunch item plate waste, resulting in lower intakes of energy (400 kcal vs 530 kcal for no competitive foods), calcium (300 mg vs 362 mg for no competitive foods), and vitamin A (77 retinol equivalents vs 113 retinol equivalents for no competitive foods) from the school lunch; and competitive foods supplied more than one third of total energy for the meal.


These data will enable school cafeteria planners to develop menus that include more nutritious foods, snacks, and drinks instead of the currently available competitive foods.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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