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Salad Bar Use among Middle School Children in a Socio-economically Disadvantaged Rural County

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Objective: Our objective in this study was to inform policymakers if including a salad bar in school cafeterias in the district would serve all subgroups of students equally. Methods: A salad bar was implemented during the 2016-2017 academic year in a rural low-income county middle-school. Halfway through, a "healthy lifestyle" educational campaign was presented. Students' gender, race, and body mass index (BMI) were recorded along with their choice of daily lunch item. Results: Overall, 528 middle schoolers participated in this program. Students opted to consume salad for approximately 5.73 days out of the 123 days that salad was served. The educational campaign had no effect on salad bar use. There was no gender difference in frequency of salad bar use. African-American students consumed significantly more salad than Hispanic students, and marginally more salad than white students. Students classified as normal weight (by BMI percentile) chose the salad bar option more frequently than obese students. Conclusions: Salad bar was the least popular food choice, and popularity of the salad bar decreased over time. The educational campaign designed to increase salad bar use had no effect. These results can help guide future interventions in low-income rural communities.
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Keywords: CHILD HEALTH; CHILD NUTRITION; OBESITY; OVERWEIGHT; SCHOOL FOOD SERVICE; SCHOOL HEALTH

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Beaufort Jasper Hampton Comprehensive Health Services Inc, Ridgeland, SC, United State 2: Department of Humanities and Social Sciences, Oregon Institute of Technology, Klamath Falls, OR, United States 3: University of South Carolina Beaufort, Bluffton, SC, United States 4: South Carolina Department of Environmental Health Control, Walterboro, SC, United States 5: Jasper County School District, Ridgeland, SC, United States 6: Department of Mathematics, University of South Carolina Beaufort, Bluffton, SC, United States. 7: Department of Mathematics, University of South Carolina Beaufort, Bluffton, SC, United States

Publication date: November 1, 2021

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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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