Competitive foods available in Pennsylvania public high schools

Claudia Kay Probart, Elaine Theresa McDonnell, J. Elaine Weirich, Terryl Johnson Hartman, Lisa Bailey-davis, Vaheedha Prabhakher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

30 Scopus citations


Objective: This study examined the types and extent of competitive foods available in public high schools in Pennsylvania. Design: We developed, pilot tested, and distributed surveys to school foodservice directors in a random sample of 271 high schools in Pennsylvania. Subjects: Two hundred twenty-eight surveys were returned, for a response rate of 84%. Statistical analyses were performed: Descriptive statistics were used to examine the extent of competitive food sales in Pennsylvania public high schools. The survey data were analyzed using SPSS software version 11.5.1 (2002, SPSS base 11.0 for Windows, SPSS Inc, Chicago, IL). Results: A la carte sales provide almost $700/day to school foodservice programs, almost 85% of which receive no financial support from their school districts. The top-selling a la carte items are "hamburgers, pizza, and sandwiches." Ninety-four percent of respondents indicated that vending machines are accessible to students. The item most commonly offered in vending machines is bottled water (71.5%). While food items are less often available through school stores and club fundraisers, candy is the item most commonly offered through these sources. Conclusions: Competitive foods are widely available in high schools. Although many of the items available are low in nutritional value, we found several of the top-selling a la carte options to be nutritious and bottled water the item most often identified as available through vending machines.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1243-1249
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of the American Dietetic Association
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 1 2005

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics

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