Are school employees role models of healthful eating? Dietary intake results from the ACTION worksite wellness trial

Heather L Hartline-Grafton, Donald Rose, Carolyn C Johnson, Janet C Rice, Larry S Webber
Journal of the American Dietetic Association 2009, 109 (9): 1548-56

BACKGROUND: Little is known about the dietary intake of school employees, a key target group for improving school nutrition.

OBJECTIVE: To investigate selected dietary variables and weight status among elementary school personnel.

DESIGN: Cross-sectional, descriptive study.

SUBJECTS/SETTING: Elementary school employees (n=373) from 22 schools in a suburban parish (county) of southeastern Louisiana were randomly selected for evaluation at baseline of ACTION, a school-based worksite wellness trial.

METHODS: Two 24-hour dietary recalls were administered on nonconsecutive days by registered dietitians using the Nutrition Data System for Research. Height and weight were measured by trained examiners and body mass index calculated as kg/m(2).

STATISTICAL ANALYSES PERFORMED: Descriptive analyses characterized energy, macronutrient, fiber, and MyPyramid food group consumption. Inferential statistics (t tests, analysis of variance, chi(2)) were used to examine differences in intake and compliance with recommendations by demographic and weight status categories.

RESULTS: Approximately 31% and 40% of the sample were overweight and obese, respectively, with higher obesity rates than state and national estimates. Mean daily energy intake among women was 1,862+/-492 kcal and among men was 2,668+/-796 kcal. Obese employees consumed more energy (+288 kcal, P<0.001) and more energy from fat (P<0.001) than those who were normal weight. Approximately 45% of the sample exceeded dietary fat recommendations. On average, only 9% had fiber intakes at or above their Adequate Intake, which is consistent with the finding that more than 25% of employees did not eat fruit, 58% did not eat dark-green vegetables, and 45% did not eat whole grains on the recalled days. Only 7% of employees met the MyPyramid recommendations for fruits or vegetables, and 14% of the sample met those for milk and dairy foods.

CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that greater attention be directed to understanding and improving the diets of school employees given their high rates of overweight and obesity, poor diets, and important role in student health.

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