The variety, popularity and nutritional quality of tuck shop items available for sale to primary school learners in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa

Nicola Laurelle Wiles, J M Green, F J Veldman

Abstract


Objectives: To determine the variety, popularity and nutritional quality of the food and beverages sold to primary school pupils.

Method: A cross-sectional tuck shop survey. Nutritional analyses were conducted using the South African Medical Research Council Foodfinder 3 for Windows® software. Eleven mixed-race, well-resourced, government primary schools were studied in Pietermaritzburg, South Africa. Subjects included tuck shop managers from each school.

Results: Savoury pies were the most popular lunch item for all learners for both breaks (n = 5, 45%, and n = 3, 27.3%), selling the most number of units (43) per day at eight schools (72.7%). Iced popsicles were sold at almost every school, ranked as the cheapest beverage, and also sold the most number of units (40.7). Healthy beverages sold included canned fruit juice and water, while healthy snacks consisted of dried fruit, fruit salad, bananas, yoghurt and health muffins. The average healthy snack contained almost half the kilojoules of the unhealthy counterpart (465 kJ vs. 806 kJ). Nutritional analyses of the healthy lunch options revealed total fat contents that exceeded the Dietary Reference Intake and South African recommended limits. Perceived barriers to stocking healthy items included cost and refrigeration restrictions.

Conclusion: School tucks shops are selling products that encourage an unhealthy lifestyle, thereby promoting the obesity epidemic. Extensive consultation is required among dietitians, school principals and privatised tuck shop managers to overcome barriers to stocking healthy food in tuck shops.

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S Afr J Clin Nutr: ISSN (Print): 1607-0658, ISSN (Web): 2221-1268


The South African Journal of Clinical Nutrition (SAJCN) is peer reviewed and an approved South African journal for the measurement of research output of public higher education institutions (Department of Education (DE) accredited).

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