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Los Angeles, CA, United States

Cummings P.L.,Los Angeles County Sodium Reduction Initiative | Burbage L.,Los Angeles County Sodium Reduction Initiative | Wood M.,Los Angeles County Sodium Reduction Initiative | Butler R.K.,Los Angeles County Sodium Reduction Initiative | And 2 more authors.
Journal of Public Health Management and Practice | Year: 2014

CONTEXT:: Children consume more than one-third of their daily food intake in schools, suggesting that these environments are ideal places for intervening on poor dietary behaviors. OBJECTIVE:: To assess the impact of strategy-focused menu planning on the sodium content of student meals served in the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). DESIGN:: Pre- and post-LAUSD menu change analyses for school years (SY) 2010-2011 and 2011-2012 were performed using nutritional analysis data and food production records. The analyses assessed changes in sodium content by meal categories. SETTING:: 900+ schools, grades K-12, operated by the LAUSD. PARTICIPANTS:: The LAUSD Food Services Branch, which serves about 650 000 meals per day. INTERVENTION:: A multistage menu planning approach that focused on implementing evidence-based strategies to improve the nutritional content of school breakfast and lunch menus. Engagement and formation of multisectoral partnerships, including public health and parent/student groups, were vital elements of the intervention process. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(S):: Sodium content changes in the LAUSD menu, SY 2010-2011 versus SY 2011-2012; other measures include documentation of program reach. RESULTS:: From SY 2010-2011 to SY 2011-2012, the mean unweighted sodium levels for elementary (K-5) breakfast and for secondary (6-12) breakfast and lunch decreased. These changes met or exceeded the 2014-2015 US Department of Agriculture sodium targets for school meals and for secondary breakfast, the 2022-2023 target(s). These results, however, were not as notable once student food selection patterns (weighted data) and condiments were considered in the analysis. CONCLUSIONS:: Use of strategy-focused menu planning as a mechanism to reduce sodium in school meals appeared to be promising, demonstrating favorable declines in mean sodium levels for at least 3 of 4 meal categories in the LAUSD. Student food selection patterns and condiments use, however, can affect the strength of the intervention. © 2014 Wolters Kluwer Health | Lippincott Williams & Wilkins. Source

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