Availability of Lower-Sodium School Lunches and the Association with Selection and Consumption among Elementary and Middle School Students.

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Publisher: Elsevier Science Publishers
Document Type: Report
Length: 586 words

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Keywords School lunch; Sodium; Sugar; Diet Abstract Background During 2010, the US Department of Agriculture updated the school meals standards, including three progressively decreasing sodium targets. The Target 1 standards went into effect in 2014, but during 2018, the US Department of Agriculture delayed the Target 2 standards until 2024 and eliminated the Target 3 standards citing concerns regarding the availability and acceptability of lower-sodium foods. In addition, there are currently no sugar standards, and it is unknown whether sugar is substituted for salt in lower-sodium school foods. Objective To examine the availability, selection, and consumption of school lunches already in alignment with the Target 2 and 3 sodium levels and the association between sodium and sugar. Design An observational cafeteria-based study conducted during fall 2018. Participants and setting Students (n = 1985) in grades three through eight attending 13 elementary/kindergarten through eighth-grade schools in a large, urban school district in New England. Main outcome measures Availability, selection, and consumption were examined using plate waste methodology. Statistical analyses performed Mixed-model analysis of variance accounting for student demographic characteristics with schools/students as a random effect (students nested within schools) were used to examine differences in availability, selection, and consumption. Linear regression was used to examine the association between sodium and sugar in the school foods. Results The majority of meals selected (87%) and consumed (98%) were already in alignment with the Target 2 standards. There were significant inverse associations between sodium levels and consumption; each 100-mg increase in sodium was associated with a decrease in consumption by 2% for entrées (P = 0.002) and 5% for vegetables (P = 0.01). When examining the association between sodium and sugar, each 10-mg reduction in sodium was associated with 1-g increase in sugar among entrées (P Conclusions This study provides some evidence that schools may already have the ability to provide lower-sodium meals that are acceptable to students, and therefore the recent rollbacks to the sodium standards may be unwarranted. Study findings suggest that the US Department of Agriculture should take under consideration policies that would limit added sugar for school meals as sugar may be substituted for salt. Author Affiliation: 1Department of Health Sciences, Merrimack College, North Andover, MA 2Department of Nutrition, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, Harvard University, Boston, MA 3Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA 4Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA * Address correspondence to: Juliana F.W. Cohen, ScM, ScD, Department of Health Sciences, Merrimack College, 315 Turnpike St, North Andover, MA 01845. Article History: Received 14 January 2020; Accepted 21 July 2020 (footnote) Supplementary materials: The is available at www.jandonline.org(http://www.jandonline.org) (footnote) STATEMENT OF POTENTIAL CONFLICT OF INTEREST No potential conflict of interest was reported by the authors. (footnote) FUNDING/SUPPORT This study was funded by a grant from the Boston Centers for Youth & Families and the Shah Family Foundation. J. F. W. Cohen is supported by grant 1K01DK107810-01A1 from the National Institutes of Health. (footnote) AUTHOR CONTRIBUTIONS J. F. W. Cohen, S. Richardson, C. Roberto, and E. Rimm conceived the study. J. F. W. Cohen and S. Richardson supervised the study. J. F. W. Cohen completed the analyses and led the writing. S. Richardson, C. Roberto, and E. Rimm provided critical feedback on the manuscript. Byline: Juliana F.W. Cohen, ScM, ScD [cohenj@merrimack.edu] (1,2,*), Scott Richardson, MBA (2), Christina A. Roberto, PhD (3), Eric B. Rimm, ScD (4)

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A648869796