INTRODUCTION: School canteens represent an ideal setting to provide obesity intervention strategies given their wide reach, frequent use and access by children. Despite their potential to improve child health, few Australian schools adhere to state policies restricting the availability of unhealthy foods from school canteens. The aim of this study is to describe canteen managers’ intention to use technology based interventions to assist canteen policy implementation.
METHODS: A cross sectional survey was conducted with 208 canteen managers of primary school canteens within the Hunter New England region of NSW from September 2014 to March 2015. Canteen managers were asked to rate which features on a website or smartphone application (‘app’) they would use to help implement a healthy canteen on a 5 point Likert scale (from ‘would definitely use’ to ‘would definitely not use’).
FINDINGS: Among participating canteen managers 64% would use a website or app to help them implement a healthy canteen. Canteen managers reported that they were likely to use an online list of menu equivalent items that meet the canteen policy to replace those that do not (84%); an online database with an updated list of products which are categorised according to canteen policy (81%); a menu assessment and feedback tool which reports compliance with canteen policy (73%); direct links from product to the suppliers website for purchasing foods compliant with canteen policy (62%); Automatic budgetting/pricing tools (60%).
CONCLUSION: The survey results suggest canteen managers are receptive to receiving support through such technology based interventions, which may have the potential to increase availability of healthy foods in line with state canteen policy