Sodium in School Lunches Before and After Implementation of the Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010
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Background: Good nutrition is essential for child health and development. Effective school lunch standards can contribute to the well-being and academic achievement of students. The Healthy, Hunger Free Kids Act of 2010 (HHFKA) mandated implementation of nutrition standards for the National School Lunch Program. The HHFKA standards required increased servings of fruits, vegetables, and whole-grain rich foods and set upper calorie, saturated fat, and sodium limits starting in 2012. Sodium standards were to be phased in over time, starting in July 2014. Objective: This longitudinal study assessed sodium content of school lunches selected by students before and after implementation of the HHFKA. Methods: The sodium content of 1,741,630 school lunches selected between January 2011 and January 2014 in three middle schools and three high schools in an urban school district in Washington State was analyzed. Mean daily sodium content of foods selected by students per month was compared before and after HHFKA implementation using time series analysis. Results: After HHFKA implementation, there was a significant decrease in the sodium content of school lunches selected by students. Mean daily sodium in selected school lunches decreased from 1,149 mg (range 1,087-1,231 mg) to 947 mg (range 899-1,001 mg) in middle schools and from 1,414 mg (range 1,366-1,426 mg) to 1,127 mg (range 995-1,189 mg) in high schools. By July 2012, all six schools met the first HHFKA sodium goal of <1,360 mg per meal in middle schools and <1,420 mg per meal in high schools, two years before the deadline. The three middle schools met the second sodium goal of <1,035 mg per meal, five years before the deadline. Conclusion: Just implementing nutrition standards for types and amounts of foods served was effective by itself in reducing the sodium content of school lunches selected by students. It is feasible to meet sodium targets established in the HHFKA.
- Nutritional sciences