Students' Consumption of High and Low Nutrition Foods and Reduced Plate Waste by Schools' Wellness-Related Policies and Garden Program Participation
Published in: Journal of Human Nutrition and Dietetics, Volume 36, Issue 3, pages 864-874 (June 2023). doi: 10.1111/jhn.13167
Posted on RAND.org on November 06, 2023
Participation in school‐based programs that may support children's nutritious dietary behaviours varies across schools. We examined school participation in wellness‐related policies, school‐based garden programs and students' dietary behaviours.
Among matching schools who did and did not participate in school-based garden programs, we analysed the lunches of 80 Pittsburgh Public Schools (PPS) students in 1st, 2nd, 6th and 7th grades during Autumn 2019 using digital food photography. We also acquired school wellness policy data. Using cross‐sectional linear regression, we estimated the association between school‐based garden programming, wellness‐related policies and dietary outcomes, adjusting for grade.
School's implementation of nutrition services policies was negatively associated with energy wasted from lunch (β = −44.7, p = 0.01). The number of semesters the students' school had participated in the garden program was positively associated with students' whole grain consumption (β = 0.07, p < 0.001).
Cross‐sectional associations suggest that schools that are more engaged in wellness policies and garden programs may provide environments that are more supportive of students' nutrition than in other schools.