Projects / Programmes source: ARIS

Meals Analysis in Elementary Schools and Efficiency Testing of the Model for Support of Nutritional Guidelines Implementation in Organized School Meals System in Slovenia

Research activity

Code Science Field Subfield
3.08.00  Medical sciences  Public health (occupational safety)   

Code Science Field
B680  Biomedical sciences  Public health, epidemiology 

Code Science Field
3.03  Medical and Health Sciences  Health sciences 
organized school meals system, chemical food analysis, nutrition, meals planning, IT support, nutritional guidelines
Evaluation (rules)
source: COBISS
Researchers (4)
no. Code Name and surname Research area Role Period No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  51190  Mojca Dolinar    Technical associate  2019 - 2022 
2.  30713  PhD Jerneja Farkaš-Lainščak  Medical sciences  Head  2019 - 2022  383 
3.  34634  MSc Jerica Ivanoš  Natural sciences and mathematics  Researcher  2019 - 2022  19 
4.  34249  Rok Poličnik  Medical sciences  Researcher  2019 - 2022  197 
Organisations (3)
no. Code Research organisation City Registration number No. of publicationsNo. of publications
1.  2841  General Hospital Murska Sobota  Murska Sobota  1122517  1,690 
2.  3333  National Institut of Public Health  Ljubljana  6462642  18,077 
3.  3334  National Laboratory of Health, Environment and Foodstaffs  Maribor  6489087  4,507 
Nutrition has an important influence on the development of eating habits in the early stages of human life. The individual first acquires the habits in the family, while later on the school environment also plays an important role. The period of intense growth and development represents a critical time for the provision of physiological nutritional needs, and it is, therefore, necessary to provide the child with a diet that is as healthy and balanced as possible. The mode of nutrition is closely linked to the onset of overweight and obesity in childhood, which affects the early onset of metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes, subclinical inflammations, dyslipidaemia, coronary heart disease, obesity in adulthood, musculoskeletal disorders and some types of cancer.     Slovenia is one of the countries that provide children and adolescents with the possibility of organized diet throughout the entire period of education. The system of organized nutrition plays an important role in the nourishment of the child and adolescent from the time of entering the kindergarten until the completion of secondary school. Data show that children and adolescents outside the home (in educational institutions) consume between 20 and 70% of the recommended daily energy intake. The system of organized school meals varies from kindergarten to high school, while the entire system of school meals is uniformly regulated by the Act on School Meals (Official Gazette RS, no. 3/13, 46/14 in 46/16 - ZOFVI-L) (hereinafter: the Act). According to law, school meals include breakfast, snack, lunch and afternoon snack, which educational institutions provides for children and adolescents in accordance with the current school calendar, the needs of the environment and internal organization. The law stipulates that the school is obliged to organize a snack in the framework of public service activities, and as an additional offer it can also provide other daily meals (including dietary meals), which is a common practice in Slovenia. All meals provided by the school by its own kitchen or outside providers must comply with the guidelines for nutrition in educational institutions. The guidelines include educational aspects related to school nutrition, as well as a health aspect that is linked to the provision of quality school meals. The preparation of the health aspect of the professional guidelines for healthy eating and their implementation is the responsibility of the National Institute of Public Health (hereinafter: NIPH), which, in accordance with the law, implements the measure of professional monitoring of the school nutrition by means of counselling. The measure is important because it provides concrete contact with the environments where the guidelines are implemented in practice. Legislative starting points and the implementation of national nutritional guidelines nowadays constitute a major professional challenge for schools facing a number of expert issues, and, last but not least, for the country in charge of ensuring proper implementation of the guidelines in practice. The fact is that in Slovenia we currently have very poor insight into the composition of school meals at the level of energy and nutrients. According to the NIPH, the composition of meals is evaluated with the recommended approaches only in 8% of Slovenian educational institutions, while most (88%) plan the meals solely based on their own experience. Given that the guidelines include, among others, quantitative nutritional recommendations (e.g. for nutrient intake, energy intake, frequency of food groups), it is important to periodically analyze the composition of the meals offered. The literature review shows that in Slovenia, as well as in some other countries, the situation regarding the implementation of the guidelines is not in line with expectations. It is also found that due to the complexity of the guidelines, their theoretical framework and discrepancies in practice, it is often necess
Significance for science
The key contribution of the research is to develop and test the effectiveness of a freely accessible and innovative computer model based on science-based guidelines tailored to the needs of children and their environment. We expect the computer model to enable: easier monitoring of organized school meals and comparability of meal composition with nutritional guidelines; more efficient management of school meals from the purchasing of foodstuffs to their inclusion in the meal; connection with existing databases in the country (e.g. the Food Catalog for Public Procurement); better communication between professionals in schools; and above all a higher quality in the provision of school meals for children. The effectiveness of the model will be evaluated and the results of the research will be available to researchers and decision makers seeking to establish similar food systems (e.g. in homes for the elderly, in dorms for pupils and students, in barracks, etc.) at home and abroad. The results of the research will also contribute to new data on the dietary composition of meals in the system of organized school meals, which will be published in peer reviewed and scientific journals.
Significance for the country
Due to targeted and professional approaches in menu planning, the project can indirectly affect the local economy and promote local sustainable food supply in schools. By properly planning school nutrition, schools will more accurately assess the needs for locally produced food, which is an important starting point for promoting local and sustainable farming in Slovenia.
Most important scientific results
Most important socioeconomically and culturally relevant results Annual report 2019, 2020
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