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Content loaded within last 14 days Salad Bars and Fruit and Vegetable Intake in Title I Elementary Schools

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Objective: Despite widespread support for salad bars as a means to increase fruit and vegetable (F&V) intake within the National School Lunch Program (NSLP), empirical support for their use is limited. This cross-sectional study examined associations between salad bar access and F&V selection and consumption in Title I elementary schools in Virginia serving universal free meals. Methods: Three matched pairs of schools (3 with salad bars; 3 without [control]) were randomly selected. Digital imagery plate waste methods assessed F&V selection, waste, and consumption. N = 1559 trays (N = 760 salad bar; N = 799 control) from 1st-5th grade students were analyzed (92.5% NSLP participation; 98.6% racial/ethnic minority). Results: Salad bar usage varied widely (8.2%-63.8%). Different patterns of F&V selection and consumption were observed across pairs. Vegetable selection was higher in one salad bar school (+43.6g; q < .001) and vegetable consumption higher in 2 salad bar schools (+15.3g [q = .005]; +8.3g [q = .022]), compared with matched controls. Students in 2 salad bar schools selected more fruit than controls (+30.2g and +18g; qs < .001), yet fruit consumption differed across all 3 pairs. Conclusions: Salad bar access might facilitate children's vegetable intake. Inconsistent results across school pairs suggest that school food environment factors other than salad bar access influenced F&V consumption.
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Keywords: ELEMENTARY SCHOOL; FRUITS AND VEGETABLES; NATIONAL SCHOOL LUNCH PROGRAM; NUTRITION; SALAD BARS; TITLE I ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: October 1, 2020

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  • Health Behavior and Policy Review is a rigorously peer-reviewed scholarly bi-monthly publication that seeks manuscripts on health behavior or policy topics that represent original research, including papers that examine the development, advocacy, implementation, or evaluation of policies around specific health issues. The Review especially welcomes papers that tie together health behavior and policy recommendations. Articles are available through subscription or can be ordered individually from the Health Behavior and Policy Review site.
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