The impact of and views on school food policy in young people aged 11-18 years: A mixed method systematic review

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


INTRODUCTION: Adolescents in the UK consume the lowest fruit and vegetables, and highest free sugars, placing this age group as the unhealthiest with regards to diet compared with other population groups. Young people's eating behaviour is significantly influenced by their social and physical environments. Schools are an ideal environment in which to promote healthful behaviour. School food standards in Europe have shown limited success in sustaining improvement in adolescent healthy food consumption.
METHODS: A mixed-method systematic review was carried out to explore the effectiveness of school-based interventions. Electronic databases were searched for studies published from 1/12/2007 to23/1/2019. The review participants included young people aged11–18 years attending main stream education. The objectives, inclusion criteria and methods of analysis for this review were specified in advance and registered in the protocol (PROSPERO 2019CRD42019119921).
RESULTS: The search yielded 10,731 results, and following the screening process, a total of 24 papers were included. This comprised of 12 randomised controlled trials, seven quasi-experimental, two cross sectional studies, two mixed methods and one qualitative study.Studies reported on nutritional knowledge, dietary, obesity outcomes and/or views and perceptions of adolescent participants. The most promising evidence of effectiveness for school interventions were multicomponent interventions that targeted, availability of healthier food choices using strategies such as, choice architecture, personalised interactive computerised or health text messages and peer-led social marketing. Less conclusive evidence was shown in computerised interventions based on specific food types and programmes based on school staff initiating changes. Limited effectiveness was found in national school food guidelines. Findings indicate that aesthetics is important to all genders; however, social interaction with peers is a higher priority for girls.
CONCLUSION: Recommendations suggest schools involve students in food choice with an understanding that young people have low risk perceptions of unhealthful food choice. Schools may benefit by developing multicomponent food interventions and national school food regulations may achieve more sustainable results through robust and consistent evaluation
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationObesity Reviews
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2020


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