Assessing girls’ school meals and snack food options in Saudi Arabia using the UK food standards agency nutrient-profiling model, Dr. Elham A. Al-Jaaly, Dr. Nahlaa Khalifa and Arwa M. Badreldin
Background: The role of schools in contributing to the promotion of health status is more vital compared to other institutions in a country. This could be through providing healthier meals and snack options. The aim of this paper is to assess school meal menus and snack food options, prepared and served by caterers at intermediate and high schools for girls, using the Nutrient Profiling (NP) model.
Methods: A cross section survey was carried out on 18 schools in Jeddah city. Sample menus for school meals and snack options from three public school canteens and one private school were then collected for assessment. The assessment process included the analysis of components of food and beverage items and classification of these items to either High in Saturated Fat, Sugar or Salt (HFSS) or non-HFSS foods using the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA) NP model.
Results/Findings: The analysis of the sampled menus showed of the entire number of the total 40 analysed food and beverage items, 67.5% (n = 27) were HFSS items and 30% (n = 12) were non-HFSS food and beverage items. One of the items was unclassified due to the unavailability of nutrition information of that item.
Conclusion: The majority of food and beverages provided by Saudi schools in public and private schools for girls were found to have high HFSS content. The study presented the first descriptive analysis of actual school meals and snacks consumed by schoolgirls in Jeddah city, using the UK NP model. We recommend that school meals should be revised at national level in order to encourage all caterers to provide healthier food items.
Keywords: Adolescents; Schoolgirls; School meals; Snack food options; UK Food Standards Agency; FSA; Nutrient-Profiling-Model; NP
Reference to this paper should be made as follows: Al-Jaaly, E.A., Khalifa, N.A. and Badreldin, A.M. (2016) ‘Assessing Girls’ School Meals and Snack Food Options in Saudi Arabia using the UK Food Standards Agency Nutrient-Profiling Model’, Int. J. Food, Nutrition and Public Health, Vol. 8, No. 1, pp.35-41.