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The healthiness of New Zealand school food environments: a national survey

journal contribution
posted on 2023-02-09, 23:30 authored by E D'Souza, S Vandevijvere, Boyd Swinburn
Objective: To evaluate the healthiness of New Zealand school food environments. Methods: In 2016, primary and secondary schools were invited to complete a cross-sectional questionnaire. School nutrition policies were analysed using an adapted Wellness School Assessment Tool. Canteen menus were analysed using the National Food and Beverage Classification System, and a sample of menus (n=54) were validated using fieldworker observations. Results: In total, 819 schools (response rate 33%) participated. Forty per cent had a nutrition policy, and those analysed (n=145) lacked comprehensiveness and contained weak statements. Seventy-one per cent sold food and beverages during the school day. The school food service offered mainly unhealthy items. Many schools (81%) used food and beverages for fundraising with 90% of them using ‘less healthy’ items. Most had vegetable gardens (80%), included nutrition education in the curriculum (90%), were not sponsored by food and beverage companies (94%) and did not have commercial advertising on school grounds (97%). Conclusion: New Zealand school nutrition policies are weak, and canteen and fundraising items are largely unhealthy, which undermine other positive efforts. Implications for public health: This study provides evidence of unhealthy school food environments and supports the need for stronger national-level policy.

History

Journal

Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health

Volume

46

Pagination

325 - 331

ISSN

1326-0200

eISSN

1753-6405

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