School-based nutrition education programs

School-based nutrition education programs have educational components (e.g., classroom instruction by teachers, nutrition education integrated across curricula, peer training), environmental components (e.g., school menus, classroom snacks & special treats), and/or other components (e.g., family education and involvement, community involvement). Specific components vary by program. Some states regulate nutrition education programs, and the federal government sponsors others.

Expected Beneficial Outcomes (Rated)

  • Improved dietary habits

Other Potential Beneficial Outcomes

  • Increased fruit & vegetable consumption

  • Reduced sweetened beverage consumption

Evidence of Effectiveness

There is some evidence that school-based nutrition education programs increase healthy eating habits (, , Kropski 2008, McKenna 2010). Additional evidence is needed to confirm effects.

Early evidence was insufficient to determine the effectiveness of school-based nutrition programs (CG-Nutrition). However, in recent studies, school-based nutrition interventions have been shown to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables (, ) and promote healthy diets (Van Cauwenberghe 2012, ). Such interventions may also reduce sugar sweetened beverage consumption (Kropski 2008).

Educational interventions may be more effective for girls (Kropski 2008), and may be more effective for all students when combined with other policies (Kropski 2008, McKenna 2010, Van Cauwenberghe 2012, ).

Impact on Disparities

No impact on disparities likely

Implementation Examples

The National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE) runs the Obesity Prevention Project which supports states in creating policy tools (such as nutrition education programs) to reduce obesity rates (NASBE-Student health). Team Nutrition is a US Department of Agriculture program that supports Child Nutrition Programs through training and technical assistance (USDA-Team nutrition).

Implementation Resources

SNA - School Nutrition Association (SNA). Teaching kids about nutrition.

WI DPI-Nutrition - Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI).Team nutrition.

Citations - Evidence

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CG-Nutrition - The Guide to Community Preventive Services (The Community Guide). Nutrition.

Howerton 2007* - Howerton MW, Bell BS, Dodd KW, et al. School-based nutrition programs produced a moderate increase in fruit and vegetable consumption: Meta and pooling analyses from 7 studies. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior. 2007;39(4):186-96.

Knai 2006* - Knai C, Pomerleau J, Lock K, McKee M. Getting children to eat more fruit and vegetables: A systematic review. Preventive Medicine. 2006;42(2):85-95.

Kropski 2008 - Kropski JA, Keckley PH, Jensen GL. School-based obesity prevention programs: An evidence-based review. Obesity. 2008;16(5):1009-18.

McKenna 2010 - McKenna ML. Policy options to support healthy eating in schools. Canadian Journal of Public Health. Revue Canadienne de Santé Publique. 2010;101(8 Suppl 2):S14-7.

Van Cauwenberghe 2012 - Van Cauwenberghe E, Maes L, Spittaels H, et al. Effectiveness of school-based interventions in Europe to promote healthy nutrition in children and adolescents: Systematic review of published and “grey” literature. British Journal of Nutrition. 2010;103(6):781-97.

Dunton 2010* - Dunton GF, Durand CP, Riggs NR, Pentz MA. School-based obesity-prevention programs. In: Bagchi D, ed. Global perspectives on childhood obesity: Current status, consequences, and prevention. Waltham: Academic Press; 2010:319–31.

Citations - Implementation Examples

* Journal subscription may be required for access.

NASBE-Student health - National Association of State Boards of Education (NASBE). Student health.

USDA-Team nutrition - US Department of Agriculture (USDA), Food and Nutrition Service (FNS). Team nutrition.

Date Last Updated

Jan 10, 2014