Canadian Journal of Public Health

, Volume 108, Issue 1, pp e43–e48 | Cite as

Compliance with school nutrition policies in Ontario and Alberta: An assessment of secondary school vending machine data from the COMPASS study

  • Michelle M. VineEmail author
  • Daniel W. Harrington
  • Alexandra Butler
  • Karen Patte
  • Katelyn Godin
  • Scott T. Leatherdale
Quantitative Research


OBJECTIVES: We investigated the extent to which a sample of Ontario and Alberta secondary schools are being compliant with their respective provincial nutrition policies, in terms of the food and beverages sold in vending machines.

METHODS: This observational study used objective data on drinks and snacks from vending machines, collected over three years of the COMPASS study (2012/2013–2014/2015 school years). Drink (e.g., sugar-containing carbonated/non-carbonated soft drinks, sports drinks, etc.) and snack (e.g., chips, crackers, etc.) data were coded by number of units available, price, and location of vending machine(s) in the school. Univariate and bivariate analyses were undertaken using R version 3.2.3. In order to assess policy compliancy over time, nutritional information of products in vending machines was compared to nutrition standards set out in P/PM 150 in Ontario, and those set out in the Alberta Nutrition Guidelines for Children and Youth (2012) in Alberta.

RESULTS: Results reveal a decline over time in the proportion of schools selling sugar-containing carbonated soft drinks (9% in 2012/2013 vs. 3% in 2014/2015), crackers (26% vs. 17%) and cake products (12% vs. 5%) in vending machines, and inconsistent changes in the proportion selling chips (53%, 67% and 65% over the three school years). Conversely, results highlight increases in the proportion of vending machines selling chocolate bars (7% vs. 13%) and cookies (21% vs. 40%) between the 2012/2013 and 2014/2015 school years.

CONCLUSION: Nutritional standard policies were not adhered to in the majority of schools with respect to vending machines. There is a need for investment in formal monitoring and evaluation of school policies, and the provision of information and tools to support nutrition policy implementation.

Key Words

School nutrition policy implementation school health built environment 


OBJECTIFS: Nous avons étudié la mesure dans laquelle un échantillon d’écoles secondaires de l’Ontario et de l’Alberta respectent la politique de nutrition de leur province respective en ce qui a trait aux aliments et boissons vendus dans des distributeurs automatiques.

MÉTHODE: Cette étude observationnelle a utilisé des données objectives sur les boissons et les collations des distributeurs automatiques recueillies sur une période de trois ans dans le cadre de l’étude COMPASS (années scolaires 2012–2013 à 2014–2015). Les données sur les boissons (boissons sucrées gazeuses/non gazeuses, boissons pour sportifs, etc.) et sur les collations (croustilles, craquelins, etc.) ont été codées selon le nombre d’unités en vente, leur prix, et l’emplacement du ou des distributeurs automatiques dans l’école. Nous avons mené des analyses univariées et bivariées à l’aide du logiciel R-3.2.3. Afin d’évaluer la conformité aux politiques au fil du temps, nous avons comparé l’information nutritionnelle des produits des distributeurs automatiques aux normes de nutrition établies dans la Note de politique/programme no 150 en Ontario, et dans les directives Alberta Nutrition Guidelines for Children and Youth (2012) en Alberta.

RÉSULTATS: Les résultats indiquent une baisse au fil du temps de la proportion d’écoles vendant des boissons gazeuses sucrées (9% en 2012–201 3 c. 3% en 2014–2015), des craquelins (26% c. 17%) et des gâteaux (12% c. 5%) dans les distributeurs automatiques, et des changements incohérents dans la proportions des écoles vendant des croustilles (53%, 67% et 65% sur les trois années scolaires). Par contre, les résultats indiquent des hausses de la proportion de distributeurs automatiques vendant des tablettes de chocolat (7% c. 13%) et des biscuits (21% c. 40%) entre les années scolaires 2012–2013 et 2014–2015.

CONCLUSION: Les politiques de normes nutritionnelles en ce qui a trait aux distributeurs automatiques n’ont pas été respectées dans la majorité des écoles. Il faudrait investir dans le suivi-évaluation officiel des politiques en milieu scolaire et fournir de l’information et des outils pour appuyer la mise en œuvre des politiques nutritionnelles.

Mots Clés

nutrition en milieu scolaire mise en œuvre de politiques santé en milieu scolaire environnement bâti 


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Copyright information

© The Canadian Public Health Association 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michelle M. Vine
    • 1
    Email author
  • Daniel W. Harrington
    • 1
  • Alexandra Butler
    • 1
  • Karen Patte
    • 1
  • Katelyn Godin
    • 1
  • Scott T. Leatherdale
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Public Health and Health SystemsUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada

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