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To investigate students’ tuck shop buying behaviour, choices of lunchbox items and healthy eating perceptions and attitudes at a school with a nutritionally regulated tuck shop and a school with a conventional tuck shop.
Mixed-methods research comprising a cross-sectional survey and focus groups.
Bloemfontein, South Africa.
Randomly selected grade 2 to 7 students from a school with a nutritionally regulated tuck shop (school A; n 116) and a school with a conventional tuck shop (school B; n 141) completed a self-administered questionnaire about perceptions, attitudes, buying behaviours and lunchbox content. Six students per grade (n 72) in each school took part in focus group discussions to further explore concepts pertaining to healthy eating.
In school A, older students had a negative attitude towards their ‘healthy’ tuck shop, while younger students were more positive. School B students were positive towards their conventional tuck shop. In both schools students wanted their tuck shop to allow them to choose from healthy and unhealthy items. School A students mostly bought slushies, iced lollies and baked samoosas, while school B students mostly bought sweets and crisps. The lunchboxes of school A students contained significantly (P<0·05) more healthy items but also significantly more unhealthy items.
A single intervention such as having a nutritionally regulated tuck shop at a primary school cannot advance the healthy school food environment in its totality. A multi-pronged approach is recommended and awareness must be created among all role players, including parents who are responsible for preparing lunchboxes.
To identify and describe factors associated with food shop (known as tuck shop in South Africa) and lunchbox behaviours of primary-school learners in South Africa.
Analysis of data collected in 2008 from a cross-sectional survey.
Sixteen primary schools in the Western Cape, South Africa.
A total of 717 grade 4 learners aged 10–12 years.
A 24 h recall established that 69 % of learners carried a lunchbox to school and 49 % had consumed at least one item purchased from the school food shop/vendor. Most lunchboxes contained white bread with processed meat, whereas the most frequent food shop/vendor purchase comprised chips/crisps. Learners who carried a lunchbox to school had significantly lower BMI percentiles (P = 0·002) and BMI-for-age (P = 0·034), compared with their counterparts. Moreover, they were younger, had higher standard-of-living and dietary diversity scores, consumed more meals per day, had greater self-efficacy and came from predominantly urban schools, compared with those who did not carry a lunchbox to school. Learners who ate food shop/vendor purchases had a lower standard-of-living score and higher dietary diversity and meal scores. Only 2 % of learners were underweight, whereas 19 % were stunted and 21 % were overweight/obese (BMI ≥ 25 kg/m2).
Children who carried a lunchbox to school appeared to have greater dietary diversity, consumed more regular meals, had a higher standard of living and greater nutritional self-efficacy compared with those who did not carry a lunchbox to school.
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