New-Orleans-students-use-salad-bars-in-schools-but-not-equally

New Orleans students use salad bars in schools, but not equally

Most New Orleans students are using new salad bars that have been installed in public school cafeterias since 2011, but there is also room for improvement because African-American students are less likely to use the salad bars than their peers, according to a recently published Tulane University study.

Researchers from the Tulane Prevention Research Center found that a majority of New Orleans students – 60 percent – reported eating from the salad bars in their schools. Not every student had the same results, though. Non-African-American students were two times more likely to use salad bars than African-American students.

“Our study adds to the research base assessing the benefits of salad bars in schools,” said Carolyn Johnson, PhD, Tulane PRC Director. “It also shows that there are gaps, with some students benefiting more than others. Knowing this, we can help schools and public health professionals address those gaps.”

Researchers also examined students’ food preferences and attitudes. Students who had a preference for healthy foods encouraged those around them to eat healthy foods, and those who encouraged their family and peers to eat healthy foods were more likely to eat from their schools’ salad bars.

“Our findings suggest that schools might benefit from targeting specific factors, such as healthy food preference to increase the use and success of their salad bars. This could include more nutrition education for students and increasing their exposure to a variety of fruits and vegetables at early ages,” Johnson said. “Additionally, the proposed federal rule for local school wellness policies, under the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, provides an opportunity for schools to incorporate specific goals for nutrition education and promotion into their local wellness policies.”

The study is based on surveys with approximately 700 students in 7th to 12th grades. The 12 New Orleans schools that participated in the study had received donated salad bar equipment through the national Let’s Move! Salad Bars to Schools initiative beginning in 2011.

The findings are published in the October issue of the Journal of School Health.

By Naomi Englar, Tulane PRC

Topics:   nutrition , diet , school food , food environment , food marketing , obesity , childhood obesity

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