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Identifying opportunities to strengthen school food environments in the Pacific: a case study in Samoa

Reeve, Erica, Thow, Anne-Marie, Bell, Colin, Soti-Ulberg, Christina and Sacks, Gary 2021, Identifying opportunities to strengthen school food environments in the Pacific: a case study in Samoa, BMC public health, vol. 21, no. 1, pp. 1-12, doi: 10.1186/s12889-021-10203-2.

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Title Identifying opportunities to strengthen school food environments in the Pacific: a case study in Samoa
Author(s) Reeve, EricaORCID iD for Reeve, Erica orcid.org/0000-0002-9239-7732
Thow, Anne-Marie
Bell, ColinORCID iD for Bell, Colin orcid.org/0000-0003-2731-9858
Soti-Ulberg, Christina
Sacks, GaryORCID iD for Sacks, Gary orcid.org/0000-0001-9736-1539
Journal name BMC public health
Volume number 21
Issue number 1
Article ID 246
Start page 1
End page 12
Total pages 12
Publisher BioMed Central
Place of publication London, Eng.
Publication date 2021
ISSN 1471-2458
1471-2458
Keyword(s) Science & Technology
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Public, Environmental & Occupational Health
Implementation lessons
School food environments
Multisectoral nutrition
Childhood obesity
Policy barriers
Policy analysis
Summary Background Despite global recommendations to prioritise policies that create healthy food environments within education institutions, the implementation of effective healthy school food policies has proved challenging for many countries. This study examined the experience of Samoa subsequent to the 2012 introduction of a stronger policy to improve the healthiness of school food environments. Our aim was to identify opportunities to strengthen healthy school food policy implementation in Samoa and other comparable contexts. Methods We used a qualitative case study approach, underpinned by policy science theory. In 2018, we conducted in-depth semi-structured interviews with 30 informants, coupled with analysis of relevant documents, to generate a detailed understanding of the relevant policy implementation processes in Samoa, and the perspectives and capacities of key implementation actors. Data collection and analysis were guided by the Health Policy Analysis Triangle, supplemented by other policy theories relevant to policy process. Results Samoa’s school food policy operationalizes international ‘best practice’ recommendations. We found health policymakers and leaders in Samoa to be strongly committed to improving school food environments. Despite this, there continued to be challenges in ensuring compliance with the school nutrition standards. Key issues that negatively impacted the policy’s effectiveness were the lack of priority given to school food by stakeholders outside of health, the high prevalence of unhealthy food in the areas immediately surrounding schools, vendor knowledge and capacity, and the high degree of agency exercised by actors in and around the school. We noted several opportunities for policies to be effectively implemented and sustained. Respondents identified community-level leaders as potentially pivotal stakeholders, particularly where school governance arrangements draw heavily on community representation. Conclusions Sustained and effective implementation of healthy school food policies requires continued engagement from political and community leaders, beyond initial commitment. There is potential to capitalize on political will for diet-related NCD prevention by more clearly demonstrating the institutional and operational requirements for effective and sustained implementation. Strong incentives for compliance and effective enforcement mechanisms are also likely to be crucial to success.
Language eng
DOI 10.1186/s12889-021-10203-2
Indigenous content off
Field of Research 111104 Public Nutrition Intervention
1117 Public Health and Health Services
Socio Economic Objective 920307 Pacific Peoples Health - Health Status and Outcomes
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Free to Read? Yes
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30147870

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Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.