Some US state laws require schools to provide certified physical education, or PE, teachers and a minimum amount of PE to support students in achieving 60 minutes of daily physical activity. However, adherence to these laws is low, especially in elementary schools. For example, in New York City elementary schools, adherence was only 4% in 2015. Researchers evaluated the effectiveness of PE Works, a multi-level intervention aimed at supporting elementary schools in implementing physical education (PE) in New York City. PE Works included three evidence-based interventions: providing certified PE teachers, training classroom teachers to lead PE, and implementing an audit and feedback system with coaching delivered by district-level staff. The study found that PE Works is most successful when school districts prioritize support for higher-need schools first, tailor support based on individual school needs, increase the importance of PE at the district and school level, build strong relationships between district and school staff, and provide ongoing coaching and involve parents in advocating for quality PE. The research suggests promising practices for scaling up similar interventions in school districts nationwide. Results were published in the International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity by Hannah Thompson, Kristine Madsen and Maya Zamek from the University of California, Berkeley, Thomas McKenzie from San Diego State University and David Dzewaltowski from the University of Nebraska Medical Center. The research was funded by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute, Grant 1K01HL151805.
The University of California Research Consortium on Beverages and Health, a group of faculty from every UC campus coordinated by the Nutrition Policy Institute, has released two new resources to support reducing consumption of sugary drinks. The first is a factsheet, University Beverage Pouring Rights Contracts – And Alternatives, which aims to educate university stakeholders about beverage “pouring rights” contracts that allow a beverage company—usually PepsiCo or Coca-Cola—nearly exclusive rights to market and sell its products throughout the university's campus and during events. The factsheet outlines the variety of stipulations present in these contracts and suggests alternative strategies for healthier, more up-to-date beverage procurement. The second resource is a living document, an Interactive Table of Policy Strategies to Reduce Consumption of Sugary Drinks (US – Proposed and Enacted). The table portrays the landscape of federal and tribal, state, city, workplace and educational institution policies in use in the US to reduce consumption of sugary drinks: excise taxes on sugary drink distributors, bans or restrictions on sugary drink sales or service, and other policies such as restrictions on marketing, requirements for labeling, or regulation of vending machine contents. It includes links to the policy language to provide sample language for entities that are considering developing new policy. Consortium members Ken Hecht from NPI, Kristine Madsen from UC Berkeley and Jennifer Falbe from UC Davis were interviewed about these topics in a July 10, 2023 story in The Daily Californian, “A unique responsibility': Campaigns work to limit soda consumption, stop UC pouring rights contracts.”
Schools offer a unique environment to increase food security and improve dietary intake among youth. A new study proposes a novel conceptual model to understand teacher's perceptions, behavior modeling, and support of student school lunch participation. A teacher outreach intervention exposed teachers to new school lunch menu items, promoted healthfulness of the school lunch program, and offered teachers educational materials to encourage student participation in the lunch program. Findings include teachers reportedly eating more with students after the intervention, and student agreement that adults at their school encourage them to eat school lunch increased. However, teacher perceptions of school meal healthfulness and taste were unchanged after the intervention. Findings call for further exploration of the determinants of teacher values around school meals to better understand this potential lever for increasing school lunch participation. The study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health was conducted by researchers Hannah Thompson and Lorrene Ritchie from the Nutrition Policy Institute, Stephanie Machado and Kristine Madsen from the University of California Berkeley School of Public Health, Renata Cauchon- Robles from San Francisco Unified School District, and Marisa Neelon from the UC Cooperative Extension. The study was funded by the United States Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture: Technology and Design Innovation to Support 21st Century Nutrition (Grant ID: 2015−68001−23236).
School meals are the healthiest lunch option for most students, and national efforts are underway to support improved school meal participation and increased consumption of fruits and vegetables offered in school meals. Given the limited financial resources and large organizational structures in which school nutritional professionals are tasked to implement these nutrition interventions, it is critical to ensure appropriate support of school nutrition leaders. Researchers at the University of California and California State University, Chico published a new study in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior describing four key school nutrition leadership characteristics for successful implementation of nutrition interventions. Characteristics included the leaders' understanding of the technical and operational details of the intervention, ability to proactively develop and communicate intervention plans, ability to provide supervisory oversight over implementation staff and contractors, and understanding that how they message the intervention to staff can influence staff acceptance and support of the intervention. These findings were captured in 14 in-depth interviews with school district leaders and staff from a large, urban California school district that was implementing a three-year project aimed to increase school lunch participation and reduce plate waste by middle- and high-school students. Study authors include Stephanie Machado from CSU Chico, Lorrene Ritchie from the UC Division of Agriculture and Natural Resources, Nutrition Policy Institute, and Amanda Brewster, Valerie Shapiro, Kiran Magee, and Kristine Madsen from UC Berkeley. This study was supported by the US Department of Agriculture, National Institute of Food and Agriculture.
- Author: Danielle L. Lee
Sugar-sweetened beverages, including chocolate milk, are the leading source of added sugars in youths' diets. During the 2017-18 school year, the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) implemented a policy removing chocolate milk from school lunches as part of a district-wide strategy to reduce students' intake of added sugars. A new research brief from the University of California, Nutrition Policy Institute (UC NPI) describes the impact of this policy on students' intake of milk and its associated nutrients. This impact was measured by UC researchers in a study of students' milk selection and consumption in 24 SFUSD middle and high schools during one lunch period at each school during each study year. The study included 3,158 students in 2016 before the policy and 2,966 students after the policy was implemented in 2018. Study results showed that after chocolate milk was removed, milk taking at lunch declined, but average per-student intake of key nutrients from milk did not. In addition, students' intake of added sugars from milk declined significantly. The study suggests that removing chocolate milk from school cafeterias may improve student nutrition. The research brief encourages schools to consider eliminating chocolate milk to help reduce students' added sugar intake. The study was conducted in collaboration with researchers at the UC NPI, UC Berkeley School of Public Health and Berkeley Food Institute, and SFUSD Student Nutrition Services. This work is supported by the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative grant no. 2015-68001-23236 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The research brief is available online. The full research study is also available online.