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School Meals since the 1980 Education Act - The Need for Nutritional Guidelines.

Noble, C. J. (1987) School Meals since the 1980 Education Act - The Need for Nutritional Guidelines. Doctoral thesis, University of Surrey (United Kingdom)..

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Abstract

The school meals service developed from the beginning of the century into a service which was seen as making an important contribution both to the nutrition and education of schoolchildren. Following the 1980 Education Act, there was an increase in the number of schools providing a cash cafeteria service where children had the freedom to choose their own meal. After this Act, also, Local Education Authorities no longer had to provide meals of set nutritional standard. It was recognised that previous nutritional standards could no longer be applied in a cash cafeteria system, and it could also be argued that they no longer reflected current thinking. Nevertheless, concern has been expressed that these changes in the provision of school meals would have an adverse effect on the nutrition and health of schoolchildren. This study sets out to establish the need for 'guidelines on the nutritional aspects of school meals' which could be used as the basis of planning and monitoring. Such guidelines would need to include both dietary goals based on current nutritional recommendations, and dietary guidelines, in terms of foods, to help caterers to achieve those goals. Recognising that the nutritional value of the meals consumed in the cash cafeteria will depend as much on the foods chosen by children as on those provided by the caterer, it is suggested that the proposed guidelines should also include emphasis on the importance of nutrition education to help children in their choice. While recognising that this is the job of those responsible for nutrition education in schools and in the community, the need for liaison between school caterers and those involved in nutrition education should also be an aspect of these guidelines. The need for such guidelines for school meals in the 1980s is established in two stages. Firstly evidence is examined which suggests that nutrition is an important factor in the health and growth of all schoolchildren. This evidence indicates that there is particular need for concern, further research and monitoring of the nutrition of children in families from lower socio-economic groups, of adolescents and of the role of childhood diet in the prevention of the degenerative diseases common in the adult population. This last aspect provides the justification for the use of the recommendations of the NACNE and COMA reports as the basis of the dietary goals for school meals. Secondly the role of the school meal in the nutrition of schoolchildren in the 1980s is examined, thereby establishing its important contribution, particularly to those children in families from lower socio-economic groups, that is those most adversely affected by the changes in provision. Further evidence of the nutritional importance of school meals is provided by the study described in Chapter Five, which found that the nutritional value of school meals compares very favourably with that of alternatives, mainly packed lunches and those eaten off school premises at local shops and cafes. The need for guidelines is also shown by this study. While the protein, vitamin and mineral content of school meals is adequate when enough food is eaten to meet energy needs, the proportion of energy coming from, fat and sugar in school meals, (both in traditional service and the cash cafeteria), is too high, and the fibre content too low. An examination of the nutritional content of meals at the ends of the range of values illustrates the importance of wise choice from the cash cafeteria if a balanced meal, in the modern nutritional sense, is to be consumed. This provides evidence of the need for nutrition education to help children in their choice. The implementation of the proposed guidelines for school meals is examined in the context of the wider issues involved in the implementation of dietary guidelines in the UK. Implementation will involve not only the school caterer and the food industry in the provision of foods, from which a balanced diet can be chosen, but also nutrition education in the school and in the community to create demand for such foods. A national nutrition policy is needed to co-ordinate the supply and demand. (Abstract shortened by ProQuest.).

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Divisions : Theses
Authors : Noble, C. J.
Date : 1987
Additional Information : Thesis (M.Phil.)--University of Surrey (United Kingdom), 1987.
Depositing User : EPrints Services
Date Deposited : 30 Apr 2019 08:07
Last Modified : 20 Aug 2019 15:31
URI: http://epubs.surrey.ac.uk/id/eprint/851162

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