Sources of dietary fat in middle schools

Prev Med. 2002 Oct;35(4):376-82. doi: 10.1006/pmed.2002.1089.


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.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Nutritional Physiological Phenomena*
  • California
  • Child
  • Child Nutritional Physiological Phenomena
  • Data Collection
  • Dietary Fats / administration & dosage*
  • Food Preferences*
  • Humans
  • Schools*


  • Dietary Fats