Measuring the impact of a school food programme on food sales in New Zealand

M.-A. Carter
1999 Health Promotion International  
The School Food Programme of the Heart Foundation of New Zealand is a health promotion programme which aims to improve the health of the school community by increasing children's access to foods which are nutritious, safe and sufficient in quantity. The programme was introduced to New Zealand primary and secondary schools in 1989. Outcome evaluation undertaken in 1992 concluded that the programme had a positive impact in creating healthier school environments. As a result, programme
more » ... ogramme implementation continued. The objective of this study was to identify whether the school food service has altered, as a result of programme implementation. The main outcome measures were food service staff reports on changes in sales of specific food items. Two hundred schools out of a total of 2730 schools in New Zealand were successful in achieving Heartbeat Awards by meeting all the programme criteria between January 1996 and December 1997. Thirty-two schools achieved awards in successive years, and data from all 232 awards were included in the analysis. Schools were categorized according to the number of years that they had participated in the programme. Increasing participation in the programme was found to be significantly associated with a reduction in the sales of doughnuts and cream buns (p = 0.01), pies and sausage rolls (p = 0.009), crisps (p = 0.0065) and sweets (p = 0.004), and an increase in sales of sandwiches and filled rolls (p = 0.0005). Other foods all showed changes in a favourable direction, although the proportions did not change significantly over the years. Limitations of this study include self-selection bias and the use of self-reported data. However, the results of the evaluation indicate that the School Food Programme is successful in achieving its aim of influencing the school environment by improving healthy food choices, and that improvements have continued over 7 years in the programme.
doi:10.1093/heapro/14.4.307 fatcat:daqswq47pvhvtlmfn6pixbdf7u