A National Evaluation of the Impact of State Policies on Competitive Foods in Schools

Published In: Journal of School Health, v. 83, no. 4, Apr. 2013, p. 249–255

Posted on RAND.org on April 01, 2013

by Meenakshi Maria Fernandes

Read More

Access further information on this document at onlinelibrary.wiley.com

This article was published outside of RAND. The full text of the article can be found at the link above.

BACKGROUND: Since 2003, many states have introduced policies to improve the nutritional content and restrict the availability of competitive foods, which are foods offered outside of the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs. This article evaluates the impact of 2 types of state-level policies on the availability of competitive foods in a national sample of schools. METHODS: Annual state-level data on limits, which restrict the time or venue of competitive foods sales, and standards, which regulate the nutrient content of competitive foods, was obtained from the Trust for America's Health and mapped to a national sample from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study who were in fifth grade in 2004 and eighth grade in 2007. A logistic regression model with child fixed effects tested the association between policy enactments and changes in reported availability of competitive foods in schools. The analyses controlled for child and school characteristics. RESULTS: Nineteen states introduced a standard or a limit between 2004 and 2007. After adjusting for child and school characteristics, standards were associated with lower child-reported availability of soft drinks (16.5%, p<.001), low-nutrient snacks (22.0%, p<.05), and sweets (18.1%, p<.001). The impact of limits was not statistically significant. CONCLUSION: Standards introduced between 2004 and 2007 were associated with a decline in the availability of soft drinks, low-nutrient snacks, and sweets as reported by a national sample of children. School compliance with state competitive food policies may increase over time. Research on the impact of existing state policies could inform the development of a national policy to regulate competitive foods in schools.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation External publication series. Many RAND studies are published in peer-reviewed scholarly journals, as chapters in commercial books, or as documents published by other organizations.

Our mission to help improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis is enabled through our core values of quality and objectivity and our unwavering commitment to the highest level of integrity and ethical behavior. To help ensure our research and analysis are rigorous, objective, and nonpartisan, we subject our research publications to a robust and exacting quality-assurance process; avoid both the appearance and reality of financial and other conflicts of interest through staff training, project screening, and a policy of mandatory disclosure; and pursue transparency in our research engagements through our commitment to the open publication of our research findings and recommendations, disclosure of the source of funding of published research, and policies to ensure intellectual independence. For more information, visit www.rand.org/about/principles.

The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.