Background/Aims: This systematic review of the literature identified current research relating school canteens. In particular, the review focused on the perceptions of canteens, their use and compliance with healthy canteen policies in Australia.
Methods: A systematic review of the literature was conducted on papers published between 1948 and January 2015 from three key nutrition databases: CINAHL, Academic Search Complete and Medline. Data was extracted using the American Dietetic Association Evidence Process Manual. Eligible studies included those looking at the perceptions of school canteens, purchasing behavior and influence, spending and food intake of key stakeholders (students 5-18 years, parents, School Principals, canteen managers, teachers and Parents and Citizen associations). Studies investigating policy compliance were also included. Two reviewers independently reviewed the papers with a third reviewing results.
Results: A total of 2,741 results were retrieved. After subsequent removal of duplicates and studies which did not meet the inclusion criteria, 11 studies were included in the review. Overall, studies were descriptive in nature. Two percent of students were reported to use the canteen daily. Boys were more likely to purchase food than girls. Non-healthy foods such as, meat pies, sausage rolls confectionary and potato crisps were the most popular foods purchased. Compliance with healthy canteen policies was reportedly low in terms of product provision due to declining funding, volunteers and student’s preference for unhealthy cheap foods.
Conclusions: Further research into strategies to improve implementation and compliance with healthy food guidelines is needed.
Funding Source(s): Faculty of Health, University of Canberra.