School food policies consist of standards, guidelines, and/or programs aiming to alter food environments in the school setting. The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends several school food policy options to combat obesity, including: diet-focused health education, nutrition standards and subsidies, maintaining convenient and welcoming food service areas, regulating the marketing of unhealthy food products, and communication and outreach with food vendors near schools (1).
Despite such recommendations, many schools have yet to implement healthy school food policies, and those that have are yet to be researched or evaluated. This brief summarizes the impact of school food policies and interventions on students’ fruit and vegetable intake and body weight outcomes.
- Nutritional guidelines and subscription/distribution programs may be promising options to increase students’ intake of fruit and vegetables and improve dietary behavior, especially if paired with an educational component (2, 3).
- Multi-component interventions with broader health promotion mandates may have positive impacts on dietary behaviours, including intake of fruits and vegetables, and BMI or weight outcomes (2-4).
Explore Policies Related to Obesity Prevention
CPAC’s Prevention Policies Directory
The Directory is a freely-accessible online database of policies relating to cancer and chronic disease prevention, many of which address obesity prevention. It allows users to search by risk factor, jurisdiction, geographical location, and document type and provides summaries and direct access to policy documents.
Click here to find policies related to school food policies in the Prevention Policies Directory.
- World Health Organization. School policy framework: implementation of the WHO global strategy on diet, physical activity and health. Geneva, Switzerland 2008.
- Jaime PC, Lock K. Do school based food and nutrition policies improve diet and reduce obesity? Preventive Medicine. 2009;48(1):45-53.
- Van Cauwenberghe E, Maes L, Spittaels H, Van Lenthe FJ, Brug J, Oppert JM, et al. Effectiveness of school-based interventions in Europe to promote healthy nutrition in children and adolescents: Systematic review of published and grey literature. British Journal of Nutrition. 2010;103(6):781-97
- Williams AJ, Henley WE, Williams CA, Hurst AJ, Logan S, Wyatt KM. Systematic review and meta-analysis of the association between childhood overweight and obesity and primary school diet and physical activity policies. International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity. 2013;10.