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Nutrition Standards for Foods in Schools: Leading the Way Toward Healthier Youth
periods (time of serving and the time that students spend eating meals) by federal regulation.
Foods Used as Rewards and Discipline
Foods and beverages used as rewards for achievement in school are also a form of competitive foods and beverages. For example, a math teacher may include the use of colored candies for props in lessons teaching computation. If the child is successful, he or she may be allowed to eat the candy as a reward. Also, food is used as a reward for good behavior in some classroom situations. Use of food as a reward or for discipline can convey unintended messages about dietary behaviors and may be associated with the development of inappropriate food choices and patterns (Orrell-Valente et al., 2007). Furthermore, use of food as a reward does not model healthful eating behaviors (Ritchie et al., 2005). Some schools have reported that teachers and others use food as an aid in managing behavior and as academic incentives (GAO, 2003). A 2002 survey of 339 Kentucky schools found that “81 percent used food as a reward for behavior, attendance, or academic achievement, and 90 percent used nonfood rewards” (USDA/CDC, 2005).
Although it may be difficult to control the use of food as reward or discipline, some schools have attempted to discourage the use of food as rewards and some district wellness policies have included rules to address this issue.
Effects of Competitive Foods and Beverages on Students’ Food Intakes
Substantial proportions of competitive foods and beverages—though not all of them—are of relatively low nutritional quality. This has caused many observers to be concerned that these foods and beverages may have negative effects on the overall quality of students’ diets. In the absence of experimental data or large-scale studies, the evidence on this issue must be viewed as suggestive rather than conclusive. The subsequent review includes several selected studies of the nutritional impact of competitive foods and beverages.1
Kubik et al. (2003) studied seventh and eighth graders to examine possible displacement of fruits and vegetables by competitive foods and beverages and concluded there was a negative correlation between the number of à la carte items available and the amount of fruits and vegetables children consumed. Also, the presence of snack vending machines on campus was
The discussion draws heavily on the similar review in Story et al. (2006, p. 116).