Background: An evidence-based school nutrition policy that helps increase the availability and accessibility of healthy foods is needed in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Aims: This study investigated the compliance of selected schools with Saudi nutrition policy and assessed the nutritional value of food offered in such schools using the Institute of Medicine (IOM) standards.Methods: A total of 76 boys public high schools were randomly selected from four areas in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Principals and canteen managers were interviewed using validated questionnaires. Schools were observed using a food checklist.Results: Meals offered in Saudis schools come prepackaged with minimal cooking in schools. From a calorie perspective, there was not a significant difference between the food allowed and food not allowed. For the Saudi policy, 94.7% of the schools scored in between category 2 and 3 (moderate compliance). For the IOM standards, 96.1% of the schools scored in category 1 (low alignment).Conclusions: While the Saudi policy is clear on what should not be served in school cafeterias, it fails to provide guidance on what must be served to improve the nutritional value of meals provided.
- Institute of Medicine
- School meals