Trading Nutrition for Education: Nutritional Status and the Sale of Snack Foods in an Eastern Kentucky School


Overweight and poor nutrition of children in the United States are becoming issues of increasing concern for public health. Dietary patterns of U.S. children indicate they are consuming too few fruits and vegetables and too many foods high in fat and sugar. Contributing to this pattern of food consumption is snacking, which is reported to be on the increase among adults and children alike. One place where snacking is under increased scrutiny, and where it is being increasingly criticized, is in U.S. schools, where snack foods are often sold to supplement inadequate budgets. This article takes a biocultural approach to understanding the nutritional status of elementary school children in a rural community in eastern Kentucky. It pays particular attention to the ways in which the schools nutrition environment shapes overweight and nutritional status for many of the children, focusing on the sale of snack foods and the reasons behind the principal’s decision to sell snack foods in the school.