Classroom parties in United States elementary schools: the potential for policies to reduce student exposure to sugary foods and beverages

J Nutr Educ Behav. 2013 Nov-Dec;45(6):611-9. 
Authors: Turner L, Chriqui JF, Chaloupka FJ.

Objective: To examine associations among school, district, and state policies regarding classroom birthday and holiday parties.
 
Design: School-level policies assessed by survey during the 2009–2011 school years, with collection of corresponding district policies and state laws.
 
Setting: United States public elementary schools.
 
Participants: Surveys from 1,204 schools (response rate, 60.9%).
 
Variables Measured: Prevalence of school-wide restrictions on sugary items served during parties. Predictor variables included district policy and state law.
 
Analysis: Multivariate logistic regressions to examine associations between school-level restrictions (outcome) and district policies and state laws, controlling for demographics and school year.
 
Results: Approximately one half of schools discouraged or prohibited sugary items during parties, or did not allow parties. Schools with a district policy and state law were 2.5 times more likely to restrict sweet items at parties than were schools with no corresponding policy or law. School-level limits were more common where policy and law addressed specific nutritional aspects of foods and beverages served in classroom parties (odds ratios, > 2.0; P < .001).
 
Conclusions and Implications: Prohibitions on sugary party fare were uncommon at all levels. Even though most policies were framed as recommendations rather than requirements, policy and law were associated with increased school-level restrictions, which demonstrates the value of policy.
 

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