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Nutritional content of school meals in Hull and the East Riding of Yorkshire: a comparison of two schools

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Abstract Background 

In April 2004 Hull City Council introduced free healthy school meals for primary and special schools pupils (approximately 20,500 children) in an attempt to reduce health inequalities. The meals aimed to meet the Caroline Walker Trust (CWT) nutritional guidelines for primary schools. The study assesses the nutritional content of the meals, including children's actual intake. The Hull school is compared with a neighbouring school with no such initiative. Methods 

64 childern aged 9–10 years participated from 2 primary schools. Fieldwork was undertaken over 5 days in each school. 320 meals were weighted and photographed before and after consumption to assess actual intake. Results 

Hull childern consumed (p < 0.001) less total fat, sugar and sodium than neighbouring children. Both schools exceeded the CWT recommendations for these nutrients. Statistically significant (p < 0.001) differences were observed between nutrient intakes of energy, iron, zinc, folate and magnesium (p < 0.001) with Hull children consuming less than neighbouring children. Childern's intake at both schools did not meet recommended guidelines for 11 of the 17 nutrients assessed. Conclusion 

Although Hull's school meals aimed to provide childern with adequate nutritional intake, findings demonstrate that, on average, childeren are served and consume inadequate levels of many nutrients.

Keywords: children; food choice; food provision; nutrient analysis; school meals

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: December 1, 2007


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