Factors in the school cafeteria influencing food choices by high school students

Christine Shannon, Mary Story, Jayne A. Fulkerson, Simone A. French

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

67 Scopus citations


This study set three objectives: 1) to examine the perceived influence of health concerns, labeling and nutrition information, taste, cost, availability, and peers on adolescents' food choices, particularly in the school cafeteria: 2) to determine whether these factors vary by gender, grade level, or adolescents' health and weight concerns: and 3) to provide recommendations regarding promotion of low-fat foods in the school cafeteria based on factors associated with food choices. Data were collected from a school survey that assessed key influences on adolescents' food choices, including low-fat foods. Some 289 students in grades 10-12 from a senior high school in a metropolitan area served as subjects. Descriptive statistics, chi-square, and general linear models were used for analysis. Results indicated that, when choosing foods from the school cafeteria, taste and getting a lot for their money were important to most students (93.7% and 71.7%, respectively). Females, and students who thought about their health and weight more frequently when deciding what to eat, were more likely to report greater interest in labeling and nutrition information and availability of low-fat foods in the school cafeteria. Findings suggest that efforts to promote low-fat foods to adolescents need to address the taste of low-fat foods, availability of low-fat options, and point-of-purchase labeling of low-fat foods. Focusing on the value and cost of low-fat foods may offer a key strategy for promoting low-fat foods to males.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)229-234
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of School Health
Issue number6
StatePublished - Aug 2002


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