Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

Implementation of Universal Infant Free School Meals: A pilot study in NE England exploring the impact on Key Stage 1 pupil's dietary intake

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Suzanne Spence, Professor John MatthewsORCiD, Dr Lorraine McSweeneyORCiD, Maisie Rowland, Professor Ashley AdamsonORCiD



This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC BY 4.0).


© The Authors 2020. Objective: To consider the principal effect of an interaction between year (pre and post-Universal Infant Free School Meals (UIFSM)) and school on pupil's dietary intakes Design: A repeated cross-sectional survey using dietary data from 2008/09 (pre-) and 2017/18 (post-UIFSM) Setting: Two primary schools, NE England Participants: Pupils aged 4-7y (2008/9 n=121; 2017/18 n=87) Results: At lunchtime there was a statistically significant decrease in pupils non-milk extrinsic sugars intake (%E NMEs) pre to post-UIFSM (mean change -4.6%; 95%CI -6.3 to -2.9); this was reflected in total diet (-3.8%; -5.2 to -2.7%). A year and school interaction was found for mean calcium intakes: post-UIFSM pupils in School 2 had a similar mean intake as pre; in School 1 intakes had increased (difference of difference: -120mg; 95% CI -179 to -62); no reflection in total diet. Post-UIFSM mean portions of yoghurt decreased in School 2 and remained similar in School 1 (-0.25; -0.46 to -0.04); this was similar for 'cake/pudding' and fruit. Conclusions: Within the limitations, these findings highlight positives and limitations following UIFSM implementation and demonstrate the role of school-level food practices on pupil's choices. To facilitate maximum potential of UIFSM, national levers, such as discussions on updating school food standards, including sugars, could consider removing the daily 'pudding' option and advocate 'fruit only' options one day/week, as some schools do currently. Small school-level changes could maximise positive health impacts by decreasing NMEs intake. A more robust evaluation is imperative to consider dietary impacts, equitability and wider effects on schools and families.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Spence S, Matthews JNS, McSweeney L, Rowland MK, Orango P, Adamson AJ

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Public Health Nutrition

Year: 2021

Volume: 24

Issue: 10

Pages: 3167-3175

Print publication date: 01/07/2021

Online publication date: 02/12/2020

Acceptance date: 16/11/2020

Date deposited: 18/03/2021

ISSN (print): 1368-9800

ISSN (electronic): 1475-2727

Publisher: Cambridge University Press


DOI: 10.1017/S1368980020004875


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric