The social environment of schools and adolescent nutrition: associations between the school nutrition climate and adolescents’ eating behaviors and body mass index.
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The aim of this study was to determine the association between the school nutrition climate and students' eating behaviors and body mass index (BMI).
Data were collected as part of Youth'07, a nationally representative health survey of high school students in New Zealand. Overall, 9107 randomly selected students from 96 randomly selected schools participated. School-level measures were created by aggregating students' reports within schools. Analyses were conducted using multilevel modeling, accounting for student-level characteristics.
There was a positive association between the school nutrition climate and students' consumption of fruits and vegetables. This relationship was statistically significant after controlling for the background characteristics of students. There were no associations between the school nutrition climate and students' junk food consumption or BMI.
The school nutrition climate appears to have a positive influence on adolescents' healthy eating behaviors (fruit and vegetable intake), but a limited effect on unhealthy eating behaviors and ultimately body weight. This may reflect the pervasiveness of junk food in the environments of adolescents outside of school and the difficulty in limiting its consumption.