The objective of this study is to assess population-level trends in children's dietary intake and weight status before and after the implementation of a provincial school nutrition policy in the province of Nova Scotia, Canada.
Self-reported dietary behavior and nutrient intake and measured body mass index were collected as part of a population-level study with grade 5 students in 2003 (n=5215) and 2011 (5508), prior to and following implementation of the policy. We applied random effects regression methods to assess the effect of the policy on dietary and health outcomes.
In 2011, students reported consuming more milk products, while there was no difference in mean consumption of vegetables and fruits in adjusted models. Adjusted regression analysis revealed a statistically significant decrease in sugar-sweetened beverage consumption. Despite significant temporal decreases in dietary energy intake and increases in diet quality, prevalence rates of overweight and obesity continued to increase.
This population-level intervention research suggests a positive influence of school nutrition policies on diet quality, energy intake and healthy beverage consumption, and that more action beyond schools is needed to curb the increases in the prevalence of childhood obesity.
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