Assessment of the Nutritional Value of the Food Consumed by Saudi Schoolchildren
Objective: This study is aimed at assessing the nutritional value of the food consumed during school meal breaks by Saudi schoolchildren in a healthy school and comparing it with that in another school (a normal school). Methods: A total of 260 schoolchildren from two elementary schools in Tabuk were recruited in the present study. The children were observed at school meal time, and all food consumed by them was recorded by a trained research assistant. The portion size of the consumed food was estimated by household measures, and the nutritional information of the packed food was obtained from the packaging label. Results: Consumption of protein, fiber, vitamin A, and calcium was significantly higher in the healthy school compared to the normal school. Dairy products and fruit contributed significantly more to energy intake in the healthy school compared to the normal school; while, crisps and sweet fatty products contributed significantly more to the total energy intake for the normal school. Total energy intake was also higher in the normal school than in the healthy school.
Conclusion: The nutritional value of school meals from the healthy school was better than the normal school. Therefore, school meals can be used as a strategy to teach schoolchildren food choice skills during this sensitive period.