Comparison of school day eating behaviours of 8-11 year old children from Australia and the United Kingdom

Dorota Zarnowiecki, Meaghan Christian, James Dollman, Natalie Parletta, Charlotte Evans, Janet Cade

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Objective: School food intake makes a considerable contribution to children’s overall diet, especially fruit and vegetable intake. Comparing differing school food provision systems can provide novel insights for intervention and improved nutrition policy. This study compared school day food in children from Australia and England. Design: Children completed food frequency questionnaires reporting school day food intake, breakfast intake and family evening meals. Differences in food consumed over the school day between Australian and English children were evaluated. Multinomial logistic regressions compared fruit and vegetable intake, family dinner frequency and breakfast in Australian and English children adjusting for confounders: age, sex, ethnicity and parent education. Setting: 27 Primary schools in Adelaide, Australia and 32 in London, England. Subjects: N = 772 children aged 8–11 years from the Australian REACH study (n = 347) and UK RHS School Gardening Trial in England (n = 425). Results: Considerably more English children reported consuming vegetables at school than Australian children (recess/lunchtime Australian children 3.4%/6.1%; English children recess/lunchtime 3.6/51.1%). However, Australian children were more likely to consume vegetables daily (OR = 4.1; 1.3, 12.5), and have family evening meals everyday [OR = 4.01; 1.88, 8.55], and were less likely to consume breakfast (OR = 0.26; 0.08, 0.79) than English children. Conclusions: Findings indicate that provision of a school lunch meal, compared to a packed lunch from home, may be more supportive of children’s vegetable intake. However, without a supportive home environment that encourages vegetable intake, children will not be able to consume sufficient amounts of vegetables.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)394-410
Number of pages17
JournalAIMS Public Health
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 25 Oct 2018
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (


  • children
  • eating behaviours
  • lunchbox
  • school meal
  • vegetable intake
  • fruit intake
  • school food policy


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