Commercialism in U.S. Elementary and Secondary School Nutrition Environments

Trends from 2007-2012

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Despite decreases over time in many measures examined, school-based commercialism continues to be highly prevalent. Some commercialism measures are significantly more likely in schools with mid or low student body socioeconomic status.

The Issue:
Schools provide a desired environment for food and beverage companies, although marketed items tend to be of poor nutritional quality. This study examines national trends in student exposure to selected school-based commercialism measures from 2007 to 2012.

Key Findings

  • Food coupons were the most frequent type of commercialism among elementary schools, present in 64 percent of schools.

  • Exclusive beverage contracts were in place in 50 percent of schools attended by middle school students and 70 percent for high school students.

  • Elementary school coupons and middle and high school exclusive beverage contracts were significantly more likely in schools with mid or low student body socioeconomic status.

Conclusion:
Despite decreases over time in many measures examined, school-based commercialism continues to be highly prevalent. The researchers argue for clear and enforceable standards on nutritional content of items marketed in school settings.

About the Study:
Data from 2007 to 2012 from Bridging the Gap was used. Specifically, data from the Food and Fitness study and the Youth, Education, and Society study was used to assess school-based commercialism and school characteristics.

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