Overview of European school food policies and their key features, validated by Member States. The database can be made available upon request, whereas the summary report is freely downloadable.
- Stefan Storcksdieck genannt Bonsmann
How to cite
Storcksdieck genannt Bonsmann, Stefan (2014): European national school food policy database. European Commission, Joint Research Centre (JRC) [Dataset] PID: http://data.europa.eu/89h/82dc713d-d501-4107-8eee-d056518db9bd
In light of the growing childhood obesity epidemic, the European Commission and Member States have developed the EU Action Plan on Childhood Obesity 2014-2020. Supporting its implementation, the JRC has been facilitating knowledge exchange by mapping national school food policies and fostering stakeholder dialogue.
To provide further insight into the various school food policies in place across Europe, the JRC has produced country factsheets that answer questions such as: what are the common objectives of school food policies in Europe? Which nutrient-based standards are used for lunch-time meals? Which countries restrict food marketing in schools, and how?
Country by country, the factsheets give details about policy objectives, evaluation measures, food- and nutrient-based standards or guidelines, restrictions on vending services and food marketing in schools, and whether food and nutrition education is a mandatory part of the national curriculum. The information is complemented by key figures on population size and the prevalence of childhood overweight and obesity in different age groups.
Background: With childhood obesity prevalence on the rise in many European countries, schools may serve as a protected environment for children to learn healthy diet and lifestyle habits. Policy makers, educators and researchers would benefit from a comprehensive overview of European school food policies. Methods: We screened public databases, EU level reports, national ministerial websites and the scientific literature to collate official school food policies across Europe. Member States representatives checked that all appropriate documents (total of 34 policies) had been identified and referenced, and they reviewed and confirmed the extracted data. Results: Mandatory standards are defined in 18 of the policies (53%), the remainder offering voluntary guidelines. Top 3 policy aims are to improve child nutrition (97%), teach healthy dietary/lifestyle habits (94%) and reduce/prevent obesity (88%). Variations mainly relate to the types of meals targeted (e.g. lunch, breakfast, snack, dinner); whether standards/recommendations are nutrient- and/or food-based; and if vending machines and the wider food environment (kiosks near schools, packed lunches from home, etc.) are considered. Conclusion: We provide an up-to-date overview of European school food policies. The next step will be to assess the need and feasibility for developing best practice guidelines for school food policies in Europe, bearing in mind cultural and structural differences between countries.
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- European Commission, Joint Research Centre
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- Agriculture, fisheries, forestry and food, Education, culture and sport, Health
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