"Nutrition information is already used in most school districts to meet the Healthy School Meals Initiative," says Dr. Martha T. Conklin, associate professor of hospitality management. "This same information could be made available at the point of selection with very little additional cost."
The researchers displayed the nutrition information in the standard U.S. Food and Drug Administration's style for Nutrition Facts Labels found on all packaged foods.
"We used the Nutrition Facts Label because students might already be familiar with nutrition information in this format," says Conklin.
Supplying nutrition information seemed to influence food selection as students increasingly opted for more healthful entrees. While students did not switch from cheeseburgers and pepperoni pizza to salad, they did choose foods with less fat and fewer calories, the researchers report in a recent issue of the Journal of Child Nutrition and Management.
"There was a significant switch from pepperoni pizza to plain cheese pizza," says Conklin. "The sale of cheeseburgers and bacon cheeseburgers decreased, while sales of hamburgers and veggie burgers increased."
The researchers, who included Conklin; Dr. David A. Cranage, assistant professor of hospitality management, and Dr. Carolyn U. Lambert, associate professor of food systems management, conducted their study in four school districts in Pennsylvania. Two of the districts had two high schools so one school became a control.
For the first six weeks of the fall semester, the cafeterias operated normally. These cafeterias were in schools that ran the gamut from traditional, straight-line cafeterias to those with a
Contact: A'ndrea Elyse Messer