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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.

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1
Westat, 1600 Research Boulevard, Rockville, MD, 20850.
2
The Lewin Group, 3130 Fairview Park Drive Suite 500, Falls Church, VA, 22042.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

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.

METHODS:

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).

RESULTS:

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.

CONCLUSIONS:

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.

KEYWORDS:

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

PMID:
31478203
DOI:
10.1111/josh.12828

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