Impact of Maine’s Statewide Nutrition Policy on High School Food Environments
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Impact of Maine’s Statewide Nutrition Policy on High School Food Environments

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English

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    Introduction

    We assessed the effect on the food environments of public high schools of Maine's statewide nutrition policy (Chapter 51), which banned "foods of minimal nutritional value" (FMNV) in public high schools that participated in federally funded meal programs. We documented allowable exceptions to the policy and describe the school food environments.

    Methods

    We mailed surveys to 89 high school food-service directors to assess availability pre–Chapter 51 and post–Chapter 51 of soda, other sugar-sweetened beverages, and junk food. Frequency data were tabulated pre–Chapter 51 and post–Chapter 51, and Fisher exact test was used to assess significance in changes. We conducted food and beverage inventories at 11 high schools.

    Results

    The survey return rate was 61% (N = 54). Availability of soda in student vending significantly decreased pre–Chapter 51 versus post–Chapter 51 (P = .04). No significant changes were found for other sugar-sweetened beverages and junk food. Exceptions to Chapter 51 were permitted to staff (67%), to the public (86%), and in career and technical education programs (31%). Inventories in a subset of schools found no availability of soda for students, whereas other sugar-sweetened beverages and junk food were widely available in à la carte, vending machines, and school stores. Candy, considered a FMNV, was freely available. Soda advertisement on school grounds was common.

    Conclusions

    Student vending choices improved after the implementation of Chapter 51; however, use of FMNV as the policy standard may be limiting, as availability of other sugar-sweetened beverages and junk food was pervasive. School environments were not necessarily supportive of the policy, as advertisement of soda was common and some FMNV were available. Furthermore, local exceptions to Chapter 51 likely reduced the overall effect of the policy.

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