Children's Consumption of Fruits and Vegetables: Do School Environment and Policies Affect Choices at School and Away from School?
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School environment and policies may affect children's ability to make healthy food choices both at and away from school. Using data from the third School Nutrition Dietary Assessment Study conducted in 2005 we estimate the effect of environment and policies on children's fruit and vegetable intakes. We use an instrumental variable approach to control for the endogeneity of participation in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). On an average school day, school lunch participants consume more fruits and vegetables, including relatively more at school and less away from school compared to nonparticipants. Meal policies had little effect on NSLP participation itself. Policies that restrict high fat milks or desserts and restrict the sale of competitive foods are associated with greater fruit and/or vegetable intake at school; some policies affected consumption at home as well.