Elsevier, the publisher of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, published a special peer-reviewed supplement to the journal in February 2009 on the findings from the third School Nutrition Dietary Assessment Study. This is a comprehensive, nationally representative study about school food environments and children's food intake at school.
The second round of this study indicated that students do not always select nutritious school meals, which the United Stated Department of Agriculture (USDA) attributed to the unrestricted availability of competitive foods (e.g., from vending machines). In 2004, Congress passed the Child Nutrition and Women, Infant, and Children (WIC) Reauthorization Act that specifically requires all participating school districts to establish wellness policies and address childhood obesity, including policies that contain nutrition guidelines.
The supplement contains:
- A guest editorial by Mary Story, PhD, RD, program director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF), Healthy Eating Research: Building the Evidence to Prevent Childhood Obesity program
- Two commentaries: a practice perspective and the evaluators' role in healthier school meals
- Nine "Current Research" articles based on the study, covering:
- Background and design of the study
- Whether school meals meet nutrient standards
- The role of the school meal program in nutritional quality of public school children's diets
- Competitive foods offered in schools (e.g., from vending machines)
- Types of food offered to and consumed by children at breakfast and lunch
- Low-nutrient and energy-dense food
- The association of the school food environment and Body Mass Index
- The school breakfast program
- A "Research Editorial" providing a summary and implications from the study.