Healthier Food And Beverage Interventions In Schools: Four Community Guide Systematic Reviews

Abstract [from journal]

Context: Healthy eating during childhood is important for optimal growth and helps reduce the risk of obesity, which has potentially serious health consequences. Changing the school food environment may offer one way to improve students' dietary intake. This manuscript reports 4 Community Guide systematic reviews examining the effectiveness of interventions in schools promoting healthy eating and weight.

Evidence acquisition: School obesity prevention programs aiming to improve diet were identified from a 2013 Agency for Health Care Research and Quality systematic review and an updated search (August 2012-January 4, 2017). In 2017-2018, Community Guide systematic review methods were used to assess effectiveness as determined by dietary behavior and weight changes.

Evidence synthesis: Interventions improving school meals or offering fruits and vegetables (n=27 studies) are considered effective. Evidence is insufficient to determine the effectiveness of interventions supporting healthier snack foods and beverages outside of school meal programs given inconsistent findings (n=13 studies). Multicomponent interventions to increase availability of healthier foods and beverages are considered effective. These interventions must include 1 component from school meals or fruit and vegetable programs and interventions supporting healthier snack foods and beverages (n=12 studies). There is insufficient evidence to determine the effectiveness of interventions to increase water access because only 2 studies met inclusion criteria.

Conclusions: A total of 2 school-based dietary interventions have favorable effects for improving dietary habits and modest effects for improving or maintaining weight. More evidence is needed regarding interventions with insufficient findings. These reviews may inform researchers and school administrators about healthy eating and obesity prevention interventions.