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Generating effective change in school meals: a case study

Claire Seaman (Queen Margaret University College, Edinburgh, UK)
Julia Moss (Queen Margaret University College, Edinburgh, UK)

Nutrition & Food Science

ISSN: 0034-6659

Article publication date: 1 September 2006




Obesity among primary school children is an area of current concern throughout the UK, alongside much discussion surrounding the opportunities and challenges of effecting change. School meals may contribute to obesity, tending to be high in fat and sugar and lacking in essential nutrients. The primary purpose of this study is to investigate the success of a healthy eating programme and to examine the work that had been done to identify areas where further work was required, where lessons might be learned for future campaigns and areas where further research would be useful.


The current study uses a case study approach to examine food provision and education within a primary school in Edinburgh, which adopts a healthy eating programme based on the guidelines of Hungry for Success. Within the case study, both quantitative and qualitative methods were used, including semistructured interviews, recipe analysis and observational research.


Results indicate some considerable success has been achieved and more ways in which healthy eating can be promoted within the school have been identified. The manner in which change can most effectively be implemented is explored and some indicators for future work highlighted. In addition, results indicate that slow subtle change will be more effective than well intentioned attempts to achieve the ideal in a peremptory manor and that persistence is likely to play a key role.

Research limitations/implications

The study was carried out in one school where the school meals were prepared on an in‐house basis. Nonetheless, looking at ways in which effective change in children's eating habits and food choices can be achieved on a small scale provides some useful pointers for future research with schools where meals are prepared by contract caterers.


The paper focuses on a healthy eating programme.



Seaman, C. and Moss, J. (2006), "Generating effective change in school meals: a case study", Nutrition & Food Science, Vol. 36 No. 5, pp. 305-314.



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Copyright © 2006, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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