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Prev Med. 2003 Dec;37(6 Pt 2):S35-45.

Changes in the nutrient content of school lunches: results from the Pathways study.

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  • 1Division of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN 55454, USA.



Pathways, a randomized trial, evaluated the effectiveness of a school-based multicomponent intervention to reduce fatness in American-Indian schoolchildren. The goal of the Pathways food service intervention component was to reduce the fat in school lunches to no more than 30% of energy from fat while maintaining recommended levels of calories and key nutrients.


The intervention was implemented by school food service staff in intervention schools over a 3-year period. Five consecutive days of school lunch menu items were collected from 20 control and 21 intervention schools at four time periods, and nutrient content was analyzed.


There was a significantly greater mean reduction in percent energy from fat and saturated fat in the intervention schools compared to the control schools. Mean percentages of energy from fat decreased from 33.1% at baseline to 28.3% at the end of the study in intervention schools compared to 33.2% at baseline and 32.2% at follow-up in the control schools (P<0.003). There were no statistically significant differences for calories or nutrients between intervention and control schools.


The Pathways school food lunch intervention documented the feasibility of successfully lowering the percent of energy from fat, as part of a coordinated obesity prevention program for American-Indian children.

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