The University of Washington School of Public Health will study the impact of menu labeling on student food choices in the Renton School District near Seattle under an 18-month, $170,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Healthy Eating Research national program office.
The grant will help researchers assess the impact of consistent nutrition labeling in school cafeterias, combined with a sustained school-wide campaign to promote the use of the labels, on the food choices secondary school students make. Dr. Donna Johnson, associate professor of health services, is the principal investigator. Most teens in the U.S. do not follow recommended dietary patterns. Poor diets and unhealthy weights in adolescence increase risk of chronic disease over the life cycle and into the next generation.
“Our previous studies of menu labeling in schools have found that in the short term, just providing menu labels does not impact students’ food choices,” Dr. Johnson said. “If long-term exposure to labeling along with an effective education and marketing initiative can improve student nutrition, then schools could easily implement labeling policies as a way to improve student health.”
[Photo: Dr. Donna Johnson]