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Classroom Parties in U.S. Elementary Schools: The Potential for Policies to Reduce Student Exposure to Sugary Foods and Beverages

Turner L, Chriqui JF, Chaloupka FJ. Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, 45(6):611-619, 2013.

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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