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Faber M.,Nutritional Intervention Research Unit | Laurie S.,Agricultural Research Council Roodeplaat Vegetable and Ornamental Plant Institute | Maduna M.,National School Nutr. Prog. Direct. Sustainable Food Prod. in Schools SFPS and Nutrition Education | Magudulela T.,National School Nutr. Prog. Direct. Sustainable Food Prod. in Schools SFPS and Nutrition Education | Muehlhoff E.,Nutrition Education and Consumer Awareness Group
Public Health Nutrition | Year: 2014

Objective To assess the school food environment in terms of breakfast consumption, school meals, learners' lunch box, school vending and classroom activities related to nutrition. Design Cross-sectional survey. Setting Ninety purposively selected poorly resourced schools in South Africa. Subjects Questionnaires were completed by school principals (n 85), school feeding coordinators (n 77), food handlers (n 84), educators (n 687), randomly selected grade 5 to 7 learners (n 2547) and a convenience sample of parents (n 731). The school menu (n 75), meal served on the survey day, and foods at tuck shops and food vendors (n 74) were recorded. Results Twenty-two per cent of learners had not eaten breakfast; 24 % brought a lunch box, mostly with bread. Vegetables (61 %) were more often on the school menu than fruit (28 %) and were served in 41 % of schools on the survey day compared with 4 % serving fruit. Fifty-seven per cent of learners brought money to school. Parents advised learners to buy fruit (37 %) and healthy foods (23 %). Tuck shops and vendors sold mostly unhealthy foods. Lack of money/poverty (74 %) and high food prices (68 %) were major challenges for healthy eating. Most (83 %) educators showed interest in nutrition, but only 15 % had received training in nutrition. Eighty-one per cent of educators taught nutrition as part of school subjects. Conclusions The school food environment has large scope for improvement towards promoting healthy eating. This includes increasing access to vegetables and fruit, encouraging learners to carry a healthy lunch box, and regulating foods sold through tuck shops and food vendors. Copyright © The Authors 2013.

Wijesinha-Bettoni R.,Nutrition Education and Consumer Awareness Group | Orito A.,Nutrition Education and Consumer Awareness Group | Lowik M.,Nutrition Education and Consumer Awareness Group | McLean C.,Nutrition Education and Consumer Awareness Group | Muehlhoff E.,Nutrition Education and Consumer Awareness Group
Food and Nutrition Bulletin | Year: 2013

Background. To reverse the trend of rising child obesity rates in many middle-income countries, recommendations include increasing fruit and vegetable consumption. Schools can positively impact children's eating behavior, and multicomponent interventions that include the curriculum, school food environments, and parental involvement are most effective. Objective. To find out how fruits and vegetables feature in the dietary guidelines provided to schools, what specific schemes are available for providing these foods, the extent to which nutrition education is included in the curriculum, and how vegetables and fruits are procured in primary schools. Methods. In 2008, a survey questionnaire previously validated and revised was sent electronically to national program managers and focal points for school feeding programs in 58 middle-income countries. The rationale was to obtain information relevant to the entire country from these key informants. The survey response rate was 46%. The information provided by 22 respondents in 18 countries was included in the current study. On average, respondents answered 88% of the questions analyzed in this paper. Of the respondents, 73% worked for the national authority responsible for school food programs, with 45% at the program coordinator or director level. Results. Few countries have any special fruit and vegetable schemes; implementation constraints include cost and lack of storage facilities. Although 11 of 18 countries have both nutrient-based guidelines and school food guidelines for meals, fruits and vegetables are often not adequately specified. Conclusions. In some countries, nutrition education, special activities, school gardens, and parental participation are used to promote fruits and vegetables. Specific schemes are needed in some, together with school food guidelines that include fruits and vegetables. © 2013, The United Nations University.

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