What's for lunch? Comparing eating patterns of high school students across Arlington County
The childhood obesity epidemic is one of the most significant health crises facing this country. The purpose of this study was to assess eating patterns of students in Arlington County high schools through examining the nutrient density of foods purchased in the cafeteria. Data were collected from Arlington County's Office of Food Services to assess the differences in items purchased from the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and from the competitive food menu. Results showed that students in all three high schools purchased healthier foods when choosing from the NSLP menu than when choosing competitive foods. This study suggests that the federal guidelines placed on the NSLP are effective in ensuring that schools offer healthy, balanced lunches that students purchase. In contrast, the lack of guidelines for competitive foods may contribute to the high energy and low nutrients found in the majority of competitive foods students are purchasing at school.