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School food cost–benefits: England

Nelson, Michael
Public health nutrition 2013 v.16 no.6 pp. 1006-1011
economics, education, learning, models, nutritional behavior, quality-adjusted life year, school lunch, England
To estimate the costs per relevant unit (pupils and meals) associated with improvements to school food and the potential economic and health gains that may result. Calculation of costs per relevant unit (pupils and meals) based on (i) Department for Education expenditure to support improvements in school food, 2005–2011 and (ii) measures of the changes in the number of pupils taking school lunch and the number of meals served over the same time period; plus examples of the use of linked data to predict longer-term economic and health outcomes of healthier eating at school. England. Local authorities, government departments and non-departmental public bodies. Analysis of investment over a 6-year period indicates that costs of setting up and maintaining a change organization such as the School Food Trust were low in relation to short-term benefits in nutrition and behaviour. Models that predict long-terms gains to the exchequer and to quality-adjusted life years need further elaboration. Modest levels of government investment in the delivery and promotion of healthier school food is likely to yield both short-term and long-term benefits in relation to nutrition, learning, economics and health.