Universal school lunch programme closes a socioeconomic gap in fruit and vegetable intakes among school children in Japan.
Sommaire de l'article
Universal school lunch programmes are expected to cover all children equally, compared with selective programmes that may stigmatize socially vulnerable children. However, the effectiveness of universal programmes in closing dietary disparity has not been empirically proven. We evaluated whether Japan's universal school lunch programmes contribute to a reduction in the socioeconomic status (SES)-related gradient in fruit and vegetable intakes.
We analyzed data for 719 school children aged 6-12 years in a population-based survey conducted in the greater Tokyo metropolitan area. We measured dietary intakes using a validated self-administered brief diet history questionnaire for young children (BDHQ-10 y). We assessed parental education, annual household income and maternal employment status as SES indicators of children. We used multiple regression to estimate mean fruit and vegetable intakes by parental education and household income, and the contribution of school lunch to reducing the SES-related gradient in fruit and vegetable intakes.
Compared with children with high maternal education (>15 years), those with low maternal education (<13 years) had less vegetable intake by 22.3 g/1000 kcal (95% confidence interval = 12.5, 32.2) and less fruit intake by 7.5 g/1000 kcal (95% confidence interval = -2.4, 17.3). However, fruit and vegetable intakes from school lunch did not vary by SES, indicating that school lunch intake alleviated the SES-related gradient of total vegetable intake by 9.9% and that of fruit intake by 3.4%.
Universal school lunch programmes can partially contribute to a reduction in the SES-related gradient in dietary intakes.