Journal Article

School meals and the start of secondary school

Julia Brannen and Pamela Storey

in Health Education Research

Volume 13, issue 1, pages 73-86
Published in print March 1998 | ISSN: 0268-1153
Published online March 1998 | e-ISSN: 1465-3648 | DOI:
School meals and the start of secondary school

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The article draws on empirical data from a study of children's health in the context of children's transition to secondary school. It focuses upon the school food practices of children in the context of changes which have occurred in recent years within the UK secondary school meals service, i.e. a move from ‘meal provision’ via Local Education Authorities to the individualized, commercial system of ‘food choice’. The study draws upon: (1) extensive data from a questionnaire survey (N = 536) with children which was conducted in three state secondary schools in West London containing a high proportion of ethnic minority (Asian origin) children; and (2) intensive case study data from a subsample of 31 households, drawn from the survey according to the following criteria: mothers' employment status (full-time and non-employed), sex of child, household composition (single mother and two parent households) and ethnic origin of parents (UK origin and Asian origin). The children and their mothers and fathers were separately interviewed. Drawing on both the quantitative and qualitative data, the article describes the school as a site of food consumption and identifies different kinds of food practices of children in their first year of secondary school which are mediated by a variety of factors. These include: the sex of the child, household resources via parental employment, the decisions and choices of children themselves, and the strategies that parents (mothers) employ to control their children's diet. The option available to children to make choices about food emerges as an attractive and novel feature of moving to secondary school, but one that may have consequences for children's health because of the mode of food supply and the nature of the food on offer.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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