Send to

Choose Destination
J Sch Health. 2019 Nov;89(11):907-915. doi: 10.1111/josh.12828. Epub 2019 Sep 2.

Updated Nutrition Standards for School Meals Associated With Improved Weight Outcomes for Boys in Elementary School.

Author information

Westat, 1600 Research Boulevard, Rockville, MD, 20850.
The Lewin Group, 3130 Fairview Park Drive Suite 500, Falls Church, VA, 22042.



In response to the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, the US Department Agriculture updated the nutrition standards for school meals to improve nutrition-related health outcomes for children. This study assesses the association between implementation of the updated nutrition standards and child weight.


A quasi-experimental design and multivariate regression analysis is used to compare longitudinal changes in BMI z-scores for school lunch participants and nonparticipants across 2 nationally representative third grade cohorts of children-those exposed to the updated standards (N = 5480) and those not exposed (N = 9240).


Boys who ate school lunches after implementation of the updated standards experienced slower BMI z-score growth than did nonparticipants; participants' BMI z-scores increased by 0.10 compared with 0.18 for nonparticipants. We find no relationship between school lunch participation and BMI z-scores for girls.


This study provides evidence that the updated nutrition standards for school meals are associated with improved weight outcome for boys, but have no effect for girls, 1 year after implementation. These findings are encouraging and provide support for continued focus on improving the nutritional quality of school meals.


Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010; nutrition and diet; school food services; school health policy


Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Wiley
Loading ...
Support Center