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Open Access Research

Changes to the school food and physical activity environment after guideline implementation in British Columbia, Canada

Allison W Watts1, Louise C Mâsse13* and Patti-Jean Naylor2

Author Affiliations

1 School of Population and Public Health, University of British Columbia, F508-4480 Oak Street, Vancouver, British Columbia V6H 3V4, Canada

2 School of Exercise Science, Physical and Health Education, University of Victoria, PO Box 3015 STN CSC, Victoria, British Columbia V8W 3P1, Canada

3 Department of Pediatrics, University of British Columbia, F508-4480 Oak Street, Vancouver, BC V6H 3V4, Canada

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International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity 2014, 11:50  doi:10.1186/1479-5868-11-50

Published: 14 April 2014

Abstract

Background

High rates of childhood obesity have generated interest among policy makers to improve the school food environment and increase students’ levels of physical activity. The purpose of this study was to examine school-level changes associated with implementation of the Food and Beverage Sales in Schools (FBSS) and Daily Physical Activity (DPA) guidelines in British Columbia, Canada.

Methods

Elementary and middle/high school principals completed a survey on the school food and physical activity environment in 2007–08 (N = 513) and 2011–12 (N = 490). Hierarchical mixed effects regression was used to examine changes in: 1) availability of food and beverages; 2) minutes per day of Physical Education (PE); 3) delivery method of PE; and 4) school community support. Models controlled for school enrollment and community type, education and income.

Results

After policy implementation was expected, more elementary schools provided access to fruits and vegetables and less to 100% fruit juice. Fewer middle/high schools provided access to sugar-sweetened beverages, French fries, baked goods, salty snacks and chocolate/candy. Schools were more likely to meet 150 min/week of PE for grade 6 students, and offer more minutes of PE per week for grade 8 and 10 students including changes to PE delivery method. School community support for nutrition and physical activity policies increased over time.

Conclusion

Positive changes to the school food environment occurred after schools were expected to implement the FBSS and DPA guidelines. Reported changes to the school environment are encouraging and provide support for guidelines and policies that focus on increasing healthy eating and physical activity in schools.

Keywords:
School policy; School food availability; Physical education; Implementation