Poster Topical Area: Community and Public Health Nutrition

Location: Auditorium

Poster Board Number: 160

P06-140 - Associations Between School Lunch Menu Fruit and Vegetable Availability and Consumption Among Elementary School Students

Monday, Jun 11
8:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Objective: Schools are encouraged to offer a variety of fruits and vegetables at lunchtime to increase intake. While fruit and vegetable availability is positively associated with consumption at home, there is limited evidence of this relationship at school. The objective of this study was to examine the relationship between school lunch fruit and vegetable availability and consumption.

Students from 3 schools (grades 4-6; N = 198) were observed during lunchtime for 5 consecutive days (N = 753 observations over 35 days). Digital imaging was used to estimate fruit consumption and vegetable consumption based on (1) any fruit/vegetable consumed (yes/no) and (2) quantity, when consumption was > 0 servings. Fruit and vegetable availability were defined as the total number of fruit (Mdn = 3) and vegetable (Mdn = 5) items offered, respectively. Mixed logistic and linear models examined associations between availability and consumption, adjusting for gender, grade, and school.

Students were marginally more likely to consume fruit as fruit availability increased (odds ratio [OR] 1.25, 95% CI: 0.99-1.57), but when students did consume fruit, the quantity was not associated with fruit availability. Students were 30% (OR 1.30, 95% CI: 1.10-1.53) more likely to consume vegetables with each additional vegetable item available, and, when students did consume vegetables, the quantity was positively associated with vegetable availability. Separating vegetable availability into entrée and side dish items, students were twice as likely to consume vegetables when a vegetable-based entrée was available (OR 2.33, 95% CI: 1.62-3.37), while there was no association with vegetable side dish availability. Meanwhile, for those that did consume vegetables, the quantity consumed was positively associated with vegetable side dish (P = .010), but not entrée, availability.

These findings suggest increased fruit and vegetable availability at lunchtime can increase consumption. Given that many students consume no vegetables from school lunches, promotion via entrée items may be instrumental to initiating this behavior, while offering more side dishes such as salad bar items may be most useful for increasing amounts eaten among students who already consume some vegetables.

Funding Source:

University of California, Davis Henry A. Jastro Scholarship Fund; Academic Federation Innovative Developmental Award

CoAuthors: Carolyn Sutter, PhD – University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign; Lenna Ontai, PhD – University of California, Davis; Adrienne Nishina, PhD – University of California, Davis; Sheri Zidenberg-Cherr, PhD – University of California, Davis

Jennifer C. Taylor

University of California, Davis
Davis, California