Canadian Journal of Dietetic Practice and Research
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The quality of children’s diets has declined over the past few decades, giving rise to a variety of health-related consequences. In response to this trend, school food programs have become an increasingly effective method to support nutrition and lifelong healthy eating habits. This systematic review synthesizes current academic literature pertaining to school nutrition programs in Canada to identify existing interventions and their impacts on children’s nutritional knowledge, dietary behaviour, and food intake. The review was conducted through a search of the following databases: ERIC, Education Source, CINAHL, PubMed, SagePub, SCOPUS, EMBASE, and CBCA. Information extracted from the articles included the program objectives, intervention design and components, research evaluation, and primary outcomes. A total of 11 articles evaluating Canadian school nutrition programs were identified. The programs incorporated a variety of intervention components including policy, education, family and community involvement, and/or food provision. These multi-component interventions were positively associated with children’s development of nutrition knowledge, dietary behaviour changes, and intake of healthy foods; however, barriers associated with intervention duration, intensity, and availability of resources may have influenced the extent to which these programs impacted children’s diets and overall health.