Examining the New Zealand school food environment: what needs to change?

Thumbnail Image
Open Access Location
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Cambridge University Press
CC BY 4.0
Habitual dietary intakes and nutrition behaviours developed during childhood and adolescence pave the way for similar behaviours to manifest in adulthood. Childhood obesity rates have now reached a point where one in six children globally are classified as overweight or obese. Schools have the unique ability to reach almost all children during key developmental stages, making them an ideal setting for influencing children's nutrition behaviours. Evidence suggests the school food environment is not always conducive to healthy food choices and may be obesogenic. The aim of this narrative review is to explore factors that influence the healthy food and drink environment in and around schools in New Zealand. The review focused on evidence from New Zealand and Australia given the close resemblance in education systems and school food guidance. Using the Analysis Grid for Environments Linked to Obesity (ANGELO) framework, the school food environment was categorised into the following domains: economic, political, physical and socio-cultural factors. Findings suggest that food policies are not utilised within schools, and guidelines to improve the school food environment are not well implemented. Canteen profit models, lack of staff support and resources, and higher availability of low-cost unhealthy foods are among barriers that hinder implementation. This review highlights recommendations from existing evidence, including canteen pricing strategies, restriction of unhealthy foods and using peer modelling in a time-scarce curriculum to improve the school food environment. Key areas for improvement, opportunities to enhance policy implementation and untapped avenues to improve the food and nutrition behaviours of children are highlighted.
© The Author(s), 2022
Barriers, Canteen, Childhood nutrition, Food availability, Health promotion, Nutrition education, School food policy
Pillay D, Ali A, Wham CA. (2022). Examining the New Zealand school food environment: what needs to change?. Nutr Res Rev. FirstView. (pp. 1-14).