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The Impact of Canadian School Food Programs on Children’s Nutrition and Health: A Systematic Review

Publication: Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research
15 November 2018

Abstract

The quality of children’s diets has declined over the past few decades, giving rise to a variety of health-related consequences. In response to this trend, school food programs have become an increasingly effective method to support nutrition and lifelong healthy eating habits. This systematic review synthesizes current academic literature pertaining to school nutrition programs in Canada to identify existing interventions and their impacts on children’s nutritional knowledge, dietary behaviour, and food intake. The review was conducted through a search of the following databases: ERIC, Education Source, CINAHL, PubMed, SagePub, SCOPUS, EMBASE, and CBCA. Information extracted from the articles included the program objectives, intervention design and components, research evaluation, and primary outcomes. A total of 11 articles evaluating Canadian school nutrition programs were identified. The programs incorporated a variety of intervention components including policy, education, family and community involvement, and/or food provision. These multi-component interventions were positively associated with children’s development of nutrition knowledge, dietary behaviour changes, and intake of healthy foods; however, barriers associated with intervention duration, intensity, and availability of resources may have influenced the extent to which these programs impacted children’s diets and overall health.

Résumé

La qualité de l’alimentation des enfants s’est détériorée au cours des dernières décennies, causant l’augmentation d’une variété de conséquences sur la santé. En guise de réponse à cette tendance, les programmes d’alimentation dans les écoles constituent désormais des méthodes de plus en plus efficaces pour favoriser un apport nutritionnel adéquat et créer de saines habitudes alimentaires qui dureront toute la vie. Cette revue systématique résume les recherches universitaires actuelles menées sur les programmes d’alimentation dans les écoles du Canada afin de relever les interventions existantes et leurs effets sur les connaissances nutritionnelles, les comportements alimentaires et l’apport alimentaire des enfants. La revue a été réalisée grâce à des recherches effectuées dans les bases de données suivantes : ERIC, Education Source, CINAHL, PubMed, SagePub, SCOPUS, EMBASE et CBCA. L’information tirée des articles comprend les objectifs des programmes, la méthodologie et les composantes des interventions, l’évaluation de la recherche et les objectifs principaux. Un total de 11 articles évaluant les programmes d’alimentation dans les écoles du Canada ont été trouvés. Les programmes intégraient une variété d’éléments d’intervention tels que des politiques, de l’éducation, l’implication des familles et de la collectivité, et des mesures en matière d’offre alimentaire. Ces interventions à composantes multiples étaient positivement associées au développement des connaissances nutritionnelles, à des changements de comportement alimentaire et à un apport en aliments sains chez les enfants. Cependant, des obstacles associés à la durée et à l’intensité de l’intervention et à la disponibilité des ressources peuvent avoir influencé la portée de l’effet de ces programmes sur l’alimentation des enfants et sur leur santé globale.

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Financial support: PC received graduate trainee support from the Children’s Health Research Institute through funding from the Children’s Health Foundation. No other funding or financial support.
Conflict of interest: The authors declare that they have no competing interests.

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Supplementary Material

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Information & Authors

Information

Published In

cover image Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research
Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research
Volume 80Number 2June 2019
Pages: 79 - 86

History

Version of record online: 15 November 2018

Authors

Affiliations

Paige Colley MSc
Health and Rehabilitation Sciences, Western University, London, ON
Bronia Myer
Medical Sciences and Psychology, Western University, London, ON
Jamie Seabrook PhD
School of Food and Nutritional Sciences, Brescia University College at Western University, London, ON
Department of Paediatrics and Epidemiology & Biostatistics, Western University, London, ON
Jason Gilliland PhD
Department of Geography, Health Studies, Paediatrics, and Epidemiology & Biostatistics, Western University, London, ON

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Cited by

1. Applicability of the Socioecological Model for Understanding and Reducing Consumption of Ultra-Processed Foods in Canada
2. Examining Elementary School Children’s Knowledge about Food and Nutrition in Southwestern Ontario, Canada

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