Study shows soy is well accepted in school lunches

URBANA, Ill. -- Childhood obesity is a national health concern and affects as many as 20 percent of school children. As part of the battle against obesity, the Illinois Center for Soy Foods at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has recently completed a pilot program, called ISOY, to demonstrate the nutritional benefits of including soy in the state's school lunch programs.

The program is a joint effort with the Illinois Soybean Checkoff Board and Archer Daniels Midland.

"Many school lunches currently exceed the recommended fat and calorie content given in federal and state regulations," said Barbara Klein, co-director of the center and professor emeritus in the department of food science and human nutrition at Illinois. "The goal of the ISOY program was to show that products made from soy ingredients can help reduce fat, cholesterol, and calorie in the lunches, and still be acceptable to the children."

A major focus of the pilot program was demonstrating consumer acceptability of soy and soy-enhanced foods and showing how they can be easily incorporated into the school lunch programs.

"Asking whether a product is liked or disliked in a controlled situation does not always translate into acceptance in normal eating conditions," Klein said. "In our study, we used plate waste or the percentage of a product that was consumed during the usual lunch programs as a proxy for acceptance. If students consumed the same amount or more of the test product than the usual one, then we can conclude that the products were at least equally acceptable."

The pilot studies were carried out in four school districts. The test included four different entrees: spaghetti with sauce; chili; ravioli; and nuggets.

The results showed that the percentage consumed of the soy products versus the meat versions was the same for the chili and spaghetti dishes used in the study.

"Equal amounts of these foods were eaten indicating tha

Contact: Rob Wynstra, News Writer, Agricultural Communications
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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