Background: The current study uses an ecological approach to describe the food environment at 24 middle schools and multiple food sources' dietary fat contribution.
Methods: Five consecutive days were sampled for collection of school meals, a la carte, and student store data. Bag lunch contents were observed on 3 days. Measurement included grams of saturated and total fat plus sales or participation data.
Results: Average total fat grams per meal were 21 g (SD = 2) for bag lunches, 14 g (SD = 5) for Type A breakfast, and 31 g (SD = 8) for Type A lunches. Average fat grams per item were 13 g (SD = 3) for a la carte and 6 g (SD = 2) for student stores. Students purchased or brought to school a mean of 26 g (SD = 3) of total and 8 g (SD = 1) of saturated fat. Contributions to total fat grams were 42% by Type A lunches, 27% by a la carte foods, 25% by bag lunches, 3% by Type A breakfast, and 2% by student stores. Findings for saturated fat were similar.
Conclusions: Middle school students eat excessive amounts of fat at school, and multiple sources of food must be considered to understand the school food environment.
Copyright 2002 American Health Foundation and Elsevier Science (USA)