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Health Promot J Austr. 2014 Aug;25(2):110-5. doi: 10.1071/HE14009.

Australian school canteens: menu guideline adherence or avoidance?

Author information

1
School of Exercise and Nutrition Sciences, Deakin University, Burwood, Vic. 3125, Australia.
2
Department of Nutrition and Dietetics, Monash University, Level 1, 264 Ferntree Gully Road, Notting Hill, Vic. 3168, Australia.
3
The Parents' Jury, 570 Elizabeth Street, Melbourne, Vic. 3000, Australia.

Abstract

ISSUE ADDRESSED:

Since 2005, all states and territories across Australia have progressively introduced policy guidelines to promote nutritious food sales in school canteens. This study aimed to assess the compliance of school canteens with their state or territory canteen guidelines.

METHODS:

School canteen menus from a convenience sample of online government school websites were assessed for compliance with guidelines for the inclusion of foods meeting the criteria for 'red' ('not recommended' or 'only occasional - no more than twice per term'), 'amber' ('select carefully') and 'green' ('always on the menu', 'everyday', 'fill the menu' or 'plenty'). The costs of a salad and a regular pie were also collected where present.

RESULTS:

A total of 263 school menus were sourced and assessed (4% of government schools). Western Australia was the most compliant, with 62% of menus adhering to the state guidelines; compliance in other jurisdictions ranged from 5-35%. Compared with primary schools, a higher proportion of secondary schools offered 'red' items on the menu (P<0.05). The mean cost of a regular pie (A$3.17 ± 0.51) was significantly cheaper than the cost of a salad (A$4.2 5 ± 0.82) (P<0.001). A range of discretionary food items were present on a large proportion of menus.

CONCLUSION:

This study found that the majority of school canteens were not complying with relevant state or territory guidelines, particularly those schools in which no monitoring or enforcement of the guidelines was conducted. SO WHAT? Monitoring and enforcement by those responsible for the policy, together with efforts to build the capacity for schools and manufacturers to improve the food supply, may increase compliance.

PMID:
25200467
DOI:
10.1071/HE14009
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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