To address its charge, the committee reviewed available evidence from the current literature and from public workshop presentations by recognized experts (see Appendix E), developed guiding principles, and deliberated on issues relevant to its charge.
The committee reviewed literature, but did not conduct its own systematic, comprehensive evidence-based review. One challenge faced by the committee was interpreting limited evidence. Where evidence was inconclusive, the committee used its judgment to inform its interpretation of findings. An important starting point for the committee was the Dietary Guidelines for Americans (DHHS/USDA, 2005), together with the technical report of the Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DHHS/USDA, 2004). The DGA is an evidence-based guideline that is a source of dietary health information for policymakers, nutrition educators, and health providers.
For areas not addressed in the DGA, such as caffeine and nonnutritive sweeteners, the committee conducted searches of original literature and reviews of these topics, including reports from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on competitive foods in schools (GAO, 2005). The committee also recognized the importance of cost, but did not conduct an economic analysis of the recommended standards because it is beyond the scope of the report.
The committee was asked to provide benchmarks to evaluate programs. Because of the complexity of the issues, multiplicity of stakeholders, and lack of availability of data necessary to establish firm estimates and baselines, the committee lacked evidence and resources to address this task in detail with confidence. It did, however, put forward general guidelines for implementing the recommended standards and following up on the progress of implementation.
This report is organized into seven chapters. Chapter 1 describes the committee’s task and introduces its guiding principles. Chapter 2 reviews nutrition-related health concerns that involve school-age children and adolescents. Chapter 3 describes the school environment and organizational structure and how these relate to federally reimbursable school meals and snacks, and competitive foods and beverages. Chapter 4 provides an in-depth discussion of foods and beverages offered outside the federally reimbursable school meals and the role of industry in the design and distribution of competitive foods in schools. Chapter 5 provides the committee’s recommendations and Chapter 6 presents options for the implementation of the recommendations. The report references are listed in Chapter 7. Background and additional material are provided in the appendixes.