Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The school nutrition environment in 7 countries in Europe

The school is an important setting for promoting healthy eating especially at the transition from childhood to adolescence. In a study just published in e-pub in the journal Health and Place, with Prof. Nanna Lien as first author, we explored differences in school nutrition environment factors in elementary schools across seven countries in Europe. A secondary aim was to explore whether any of these school nutrition environment factors were associated with soft drink consumption of young adolescents.  With questionnaires administered by school staff and management and by audits -i.e. direct systematic observations of the school food environment by our researchers- the school food environment was assessed. We looked at such issues as availability and accessibility of foods, rules and regulations regarding food and eating, and role modelling and actual teaching regarding healthy eating by school staff. A large variety of food policy and practices influencing the school food and nutrition environment were found within and between countries across Europe. However, only very few significant association with  the pupils׳ soft drink consumption were found.