NPI researchers use factor analysis method to evaluate the effect of school nutrition environments on child health

Mar 22, 2021

Researchers at the Nutrition Policy Institute (NPI), University of California, Davis, and the University of South Carolina published a new study describing the use of factor analysis methods to evaluate the effectiveness of school nutrition environments on child health outcomes. Given the complexity of school food environments, factor analysis can be a useful method in identifying latent or unmeasured factors underlying observed environmental characteristics to determine which have the largest influence on child health outcomes. Researchers applied this method to data collected from the Healthy Communities Study which included 4,635 children in the US between the ages of four and 15 years from 386 elementary and middle schools in 2013–2015. Although the findings from the study were mixed, results suggest that restriction of unhealthy foods in school is associated with lower added sugar intake by children. The study was published online in March 2021 in The Journal of Nutrition. Co-authors include Marisa TsaiLorrene Ritchie, and Gail Woodward-Lopez from NPI, Lauren Au from the University of California, Davis, and Edward Frongillo from the University of South Carolina. The study was funded by a grant from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute of the National Institutes of Health.

By Danielle L. Lee
Author - Director of Communications & Research Engagement