In June 2008, the Alberta government released the Alberta Nutrition Guidelines for Children and Youth. We evaluated the awareness of and intent to use the guidelines in Alberta schools, and sought to determine whether organizational characteristics were a factor in adoption of the guidelines.
Randomly selected schools from across Alberta completed a 19-question telephone survey, which included open- and closed-ended questions about the schools' characteristics, the priority given to healthy eating, awareness of the guidelines, and the schools' intent to use the guidelines. Of the 554 schools contacted, 357 (64%) completed the survey.
Overall, 76.1% of schools were aware of the guidelines and 65% were in the process of adopting them. Fifty percent of schools identified healthy eating as a high priority and 65.9% reported making changes to improve the nutritional quality of foods offered in the past year. Schools that were larger, public, and urban, and had a school champion and healthy eating as a high priority were more likely to be adopting the guidelines.
Most schools were aware of the nutrition guidelines and many had begun the adoption process. Identifying a school champion may be an important first step for schools in terms of adopting health promotion initiatives.