Agriculture and Human Values

, 25:499 | Cite as

School food environments and the obesity issue: content, structural determinants, and agency in Canadian high schools

Article

Abstract

To understand the phenomenon of the rapidly increasing prevalence of overweight and obese children and youth, it is especially important to examine the school food environment, the role of structural factors in shaping this environment, and the resulting nutrition and health outcomes. The paper examines research on school food environments in the US and Canada. It notes evidence of widespread availability of poor nutrition products in both environments and delineates reasons for the situation, and examines initiatives presently being undertaken in a number of jurisdictions in both countries to encourage healthy eating in schools. Empirical data are presented from a pilot study of high schools in the Canadian province of Ontario. The study documents the extent of student purchasing of nutrient-poor foods and beverages, and the structural factors internal and external to the school that appear responsible for the availability of such products in food environments in this critical institutional sphere. The paper also examines positive local initiatives in high schools that seek to encourage healthy eating in schools.

Keywords

Canada Food environment Food policy Nutrition Obesity Ontario Schools 

Abbreviations

BMI

Body Mass Index

CDC

US Center for Disease Control (now: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention)

Notes

Acknowledgements

The author would like to thank Maxine Fung for her collaboration in the fieldwork phase of this project, and Anita Mahadeo for her efforts with the organization of the data. The comments of anonymous reviewers and the editor were helpful in revising the article. Data collection was assisted by a grant from the University of Guelph.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology and Anthropology University of GuelphGuelphCanada

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