Background: Breakfast consumption is associated with better diet quality and healthier weights, yet many adolescents miss breakfast. Nationally, 17.1% of students participate in the School Breakfast Program (SBP). Only 10% of high school students participate. Objective: Our aim was to evaluate an environmental intervention to increase SBP participation in high schools. Design: A group randomized trial was carried out from 2012 to 2015. Participants/setting: Ninth- and 10th-grade students enrolled in 16 rural schools in Minnesota (median 387 students) were randomized to intervention or control condition. Intervention: A school-based intervention that included two key components was implemented over a 12-month period. One component focused on increasing SBP participation by increasing student access to school breakfast through changes in school breakfast service practices (eg, serving breakfast from a grab-n-go cart in the atrium; expanding breakfast service times). The other component focused on promoting school breakfast through student-directed marketing campaigns. Main outcome measure: Change in school-level participation in the SBP was assessed between baseline (among ninth and tenth graders) and follow-up (among tenth and eleventh graders). School meal and attendance records were used to assess change in school-level participation rates in the SBP. Statistical analyses: The Wilcoxon test was used for analysis of difference in change in mean SBP participation rate by experimental group. Results: The median change in SBP participation rate between baseline and follow-up was 3% (interquartile range=13.5%) among the eight schools in the intervention group and 0.5% (interquartile range=0.7%) among the eight schools in the control group. This difference in change between groups was statistically significant (Wilcoxon test, P=0.03). The intervention effect increased throughout the intervention period, with change in mean SBP participation rate by the end of the school year reaching 10.3% (95% CI 3.0 to 17.6). However, among the intervention schools, the change in mean SBP participation rates was highly variable (range=–0.8% to 24.8%). Conclusions: Interventions designed to improve access to the SBP by reducing environmental and social barriers have potential to increase participation among high school students.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
FUNDING/SUPPORT Supported by National Institutes of Health, National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute grant R01HL113235.
- High school
- School breakfast program participation