Poster Topical Area: Nutritional Epidemiology

Location: Hall D

Poster Board Number: 833

P20-166 - Examining differences in school hour and school day dietary quality among Canadian children between 2004 and 2015

Monday, Jun 11
8:00 AM – 3:00 PM

Since 2004, all Canadian provinces have created policies about what types of foods schools should offer. Still, little is known about how children’s dietary quality on school days has changed over the last decade or whether dietary outcomes differ by province.

Objectives: 1) To evaluate changes in Canadian children’s dietary quality during school hours and on school days between 2004 and 2015; 2) To examine whether changes in school hour diet quality were moderated by sociodemographic characteristics such as sex, age, ethnicity, province of residence, parental education and food security status.


Methods: Nationally representative 24-h dietary recall data for Canadian children aged 6-17 years were obtained from the 2004 (n = 4827) and 2015 (n = 2447) Canadian Community Health Surveys. Dietary quality for the full school day was measured using the Canadian Healthy Eating Index (HEI), a score based on 11 dietary components that examines the totality of foods and beverages consumed and compliance with national dietary recommendations. Multivariable regression models compared differences in HEI scores for the whole school day, and for school hours alone using an adapted school hour HEI (S-HEI). Interaction terms tested the moderating effects of sociodemographic variables on changes in school hour diet quality between 2004 and 2015.


Results: S-HEI scores rose from 51.2 to 57.3 points (maximum=100) from 2004 to 2015 (p<0.001). S-HEI sub-scores for grains, total vegetables and fruit, whole fruit, dark green and orange vegetables, milk and meat products improved over time (p<0.001) but remained well below recommendations and sub-scores for whole grains declined (p<0.001). A decrease in the % energy from minimally nutritious foods accounted for 43% of the improvement in S-HEI scores. Whole day HEI scores also improved (60.4 to 64.5 points, p<0.001) from 2004 to 2015. All provinces saw improvements in school hour dietary quality over time, but some provinces saw slightly smaller gains than others (p-value for the overall interaction = 0.055). No other sociodemographic variables significantly moderated changes in S-HEI scores.


Conclusions: Average self-reported dietary quality of Canadian children during school hours and on school days improved modestly from 2004 to 2015, but remain below national dietary recommendations.




Funding Source: Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) Operating Grant no. FRN 119577

CoAuthors: Jennifer Black, PhD, RD – University of British Columbia; Susan Barr, PhD, RD, FDC – University of British Columbia

Claire N. Tugault-Lafleur

PhD Candidate
University of British Columbia
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada