Start Date: December 2012

ID #: 70551

Principal Investigator: Eric Rimm, ScD

Co-Principal Investigator: Lauren Smith, MD, MPH

Organization: Harvard University School of Public Health

Funding Round: Round 7

See more related research


In accordance with a Massachusetts school nutrition bill (105 CMR 225.000) passed in 2010, the Massachusetts Departments of Public Health and Elementary and Secondary Education have developed new nutrition standards for all competitive foods and beverages served in schools in the state. These standards will be the most comprehensive in the U.S. and most closely reflect all aspects of the Institute of Medicine’s competitive food recommendations. This natural experiment will evaluate the new competitive food policy in Massachusetts, with Rhode Island serving as a control state. The specific aims of the study are to: 1) assess schools’ compliance with new state nutrition standards in Massachusetts and the barriers to prompt compliance; 2) evaluate the financial impact of healthier nutrition standards on food and beverage sales for both competitive foods and school meals in Massachusetts compared with finances in Rhode Island where competitive foods are unchanged; 3) determine which strategies lead to the most successful implementation of the new standards and those that best prevent revenue losses in Massachusetts as well as strategies for serving healthier foods and beverages in Rhode Island; 4) assess if the legislation leads to product reformulation and/or increased availability of healthier competitive foods/beverages in schools in Massachusetts; and 5) examine students’ consumption of foods and beverages both during and outside of the school day in Massachusetts compared with Rhode Island. This study will inform the development of best practice approaches for other states and federal regulators as they consider implementing similar policies in the future.

Related Research

August 2016

How Do We Actually Put Smarter Snacks in Schools? NOURISH (Nutrition Opportunities to Understand Reforms Involving Student Health) Conversations with Food-Service Directors

In 2012, Massachusetts implemented a state law to establish nutrition standards for competitive foods and beverages sold or provided in public schools, similar to the federal Smart Snacks in School standards. This mixed-methods study aimed to understand food service directors’ (FSD) perspectives and experiences implementing the Massachusetts standards. The study used direct observation of foods More

April 2016

Impact of Nutrition Standards on Competitive Food Quality in Massachusetts Middle and High Schools

In 2012, Massachusetts implemented a competitive food law similar to the fully implemented version of the national Smart Snack standards. The NOURISH study (Nutrition Opportunities to Understand Reforms Involving Student Health) was created to assess the nutritional quality (compliance) and availability of competitive foods and beverages in middle and high schools before and after the More

April 2016

Healthier Standards for School Meals and Snacks: Impact on School Food Revenues and Lunch Participation Rates

In 2012, the updated U.S. Department of Agriculture school meals standards and a comprehensive competitive food law similar to the fully implemented version of the national Smart Snacks standards went into effect in Massachusetts. This study evaluated the impact of both standards on school food revenues and school lunch participation. Revenue and participation data from More

August 2015

Implementation of Competitive Food and Beverage Standards in a Sample of Massachusetts Schools: The NOURISH Study (Nutrition Opportunities to Understand Reforms Involving Student Health)

During 2012, Massachusetts adopted comprehensive school competitive food and beverage standards that closely align with Institute of Medicine recommendations and Smart Snacks in School national standards. The NOURISH study examined middle and high schools’ compliance with the Massachusetts standards after the first year of implementation. Employing an observational cohort study with a pre-/post-test design, researchers More