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The Vending and à la Carte Policy Intervention in Maine Public High Schools

Author(s): Anne-Marie Davee, MS, RD | Janet E. Whatley Blum, ScD | Rachel L. Devore | Christina M. Beaudoin, PhD | Lori A. Kaley, MS, MSB | Janet L. Leiter, MS, RD | Debra A. Wigand, MEd

Journal: Preventing Chronic Disease
ISSN 1545-1151

Volume: 2;
Issue: 5;
Date: 2005;
Original page

Keywords: public health | chronic disease | prevention | Maine | high schools

Background A healthy school nutrition environment may be important for decreasing childhood overweight. This article describes a project to make healthier snacks and beverages available in vending machines and à la carte programs in Maine public high schools. Context Seven public high schools in Maine volunteered to participate in this project. Four schools made changes to the nutrition environment, and three schools that served as controls did not. The nutrition guidelines were to offer only low-fat (not more than 30% of total calories from fat) and low-sugar (not more than 35% by weight of sugar) items in vending machines and à la carte programs. Methods Strategies to implement the project included early communications with school officials, monetary stipends for participation, identification of a school liaison, and a committee at each school to promote the healthy changes. Baseline nutrient content and sales of all competitive foods and beverages were assessed to develop the guidelines for changes in the four schools. Student volunteers at all seven schools were measured for height, weight, diet quality, and physical activity level to assess the impact of the change to the nutrition environment. Baseline measures were taken in the spring semester of 2004. Nutrition changes were made to the à la carte programs and vending machines in the four intervention schools at the start of the fall semester of 2004. Follow-up nutrition assessment and student data collection occurred in the spring semester of 2005. Consequences Healthy changes in vending machines were more easily achieved than those made in the à la carte programs. Technical assistance and ongoing support were essential for successful implementation of this intervention. Interpretation It is possible to improve the nutrition environment of Maine public high schools. Stakeholder support is essential to sustain healthy changes.
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