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ERIC Number: ED510619
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Nov
Pages: 9
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 33
School Food Unwrapped: What's Available and What Our Kids Actually Are Eating. Research Brief. Publication #2008-40
Hair, Elizabeth; Ling, Thomson; Wandner, Laura
Child Trends
Childhood obesity has emerged as a critical health problem of the 21st century. The seriousness of this issue stems from the grave health consequences of overweight and obesity that begin in child-hood and persist later in life. In light of these consequences, public health officials and others have begun to focus on schools as key settings in which to foster healthy eating and exercise habits. Their efforts reflect a growing recognition that the school food environment (that is, the types of food sold to children) represents a natural place for intervention. This "Research Brief" examines the prevalence of vending machines, school stores, and other outlets in elementary schools that often provide non-nutritious foods, the types of food and beverages sold within these outlets, and student consumption of food at school among a nationally representative sample of fifth-grade students. We found that competitive foods (i.e., foods that are not part of the National School Lunch and School Breakfast programs) are available in most schools and that as many as one in four children reports buying unhealthy competitive foods. Contrary to popular belief, we also found that most of these purchases are made in school cafeterias, rather than through vending machines. Our findings also run counter to the expectation that the kind of food available in a school depends on the income level of its students. We found that higher-income students in suburban school districts were no more likely to have access to healthy foods than were their lower-income, urban peers. But there was a fundamental income-related difference: Schools attended by higher-income students offered their students a greater selection of both types of food. A glossary is included. (Contains 4 figures.) [This Research Brief is a product of a partnership between Child Trends and the Policy Information and Analysis Center - Child/Adolescent at the University of California, San Francisco.]
Child Trends. 4301 Connecticut Avenue NW Suite 350, Washington, DC 20008. Tel: 202-572-6000; Fax: 202-362-8420; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Research
Education Level: Elementary Education; Grade 5
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Health Resources and Services Administration (DHHS/PHS), Maternal and Child Health Bureau
Authoring Institution: Child Trends
Identifiers - Laws, Policies, & Programs: Elementary and Secondary Education Act Title I