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J Child Nutr Manag. 2011;35(2). pii: 16353.

Impact of the HEALTHY Study on Vending Machine Offerings in Middle Schools.

Abstract

PURPOSEOBJECTIVES:

The purpose of this study is to report the impact of the three-year middle school-based HEALTHY study on intervention school vending machine offerings. There were two goals for the vending machines: serve only dessert/snack foods with 200 kilocalories or less per single serving package, and eliminate 100% fruit juice and beverages with added sugar.

METHODS:

Six schools in each of seven cities (Houston, TX, San Antonio, TX, Irvine, CA, Portland, OR, Pittsburg, PA, Philadelphia, PA, and Chapel Hill, NC) were randomized into intervention (n=21 schools) or control (n=21 schools) groups, with three intervention and three control schools per city. All items in vending machine slots were tallied twice in the fall of 2006 for baseline data and twice at the end of the study, in 2009. The percentage of total slots for each food/beverage category was calculated and compared between intervention and control schools at the end of study, using the Pearson chi-square test statistic.

RESULTS:

At baseline, 15 intervention and 15 control schools had beverage and/or snack vending machines, compared with 11 intervention and 11 control schools at the end of the study. At the end of study, all of the intervention schools with beverage vending machines, but only one out of the nine control schools, met the beverage goal. The snack goal was met by all of the intervention schools and only one of the four control schools with snack vending machines.

APPLICATIONS TO CHILD NUTRITION PROFESSIONALS:

The HEALTHY study's vending machine beverage and snack goals were successfully achieved in intervention schools, reducing access to less healthy food items outside the school meals program. Although the effect of these changes on student diet, energy balance and growth is unknown, these results suggest that healthier options for snacks can successfully be offered in school vending machines.

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