Condition category
Nutritional, Metabolic, Endocrine
Date applied
Date assigned
Last edited
Retrospectively registered
Overall trial status
Recruitment status
No longer recruiting
Publication status

Plain English Summary

Background and study aims
There are no organized school meals in Norway and children bring packed lunches from home. Milk prescription programs exist in most schools (parent paid) and fruit prescription programs exist in some schools (also parent paid). Norway has "Guidelines for school meals”, but since the parents are responsible for the quality of the food that the children bring for the school meal, socio economic differences in families are highly visible and guidelines exist mostly in theory and not in practice. No vending machines are allowed in schools. The prevalence of overweight (including obesity) among children in Norway is 16%. The area where this study took place had a higher prevalence of childhood overweight and was one of the reasons for starting the study. The prevention of childhood obesity through promoting healthy eating habits at school was therefore a main aim. The study also aimed at promoting a healthy meal pattern, increasing motivation for learning and promoting a healthy weight status.

Who can participate?
All schoolchildren aged 10-12 from two selected schools in southern Norway were invited to participate together with one of their parents.

What does the study involve?
One group is selected to receive a free healthy school meal every day for one full school year (August 2014- June 2015) - a cold meal prepared by a local cook and consisting of wholegrain bread, healthy spread like ham, cheese, liver paste, fish spread etc., milk and fruit/vegetables cut into small pieces. The children in the control group do what they usually do: eat their packed lunch from home. Dietary habits are assessed using questionnaires answered by children and their parents in August 2014, January 2015, and June 2015.

What are the possible benefits and risks of participating?
The possible benefits for the children in the intervention group (getting the free meal) are improved diet, and for society more knowledge about school children's dietary habits and preference and liking for different food items. There is no potential risk to the children participating in the study.

Where is the study run from?
The study is run from the University of Agder in Norway. Birkeland and Froland schools were the locations where the study took place.

When is the study starting and how long is it expected to run for?
May 2013 to December 2015

Who is funding the study?
The University of Agder is funding the study. A local cook, Kiwi Birkeland, Bakers Lillesand, Birkeland Medical Center, the Norwegian Womens Public Health Association, and Aust-Agder county council also supported the work in The School Meal Project.

Who is the main contact?
Prof. Frøydis N. Vik

Trial website

Contact information



Primary contact

Prof Frøydis Nordgård Vik


Contact details

Postboks 422

Additional identifiers

EudraCT number number

Protocol/serial number


Study information

Scientific title

The School Meal Project in Southern Norway investigated whether a free school meal every day for one year was associated with children’s intake of healthy food during school, weight status and learning environment


School Meal Project

Study hypothesis

Rationale: The School Meal Project was developed based on the assumption that a healthy free school meal may influence children to eat a meal rich in healthy nutrients and thereby contribute to healthy eating habits – which in turn may contribute to prevention of childhood obesity.

Hypothesis: A free healthy school meal every day for one year improves meal pattern, dietary habits at school, learning environment, motivation for learning and weight status among children 10-12 years old.

Ethics approval

Norwegian Centre for Research Data, 25/06/2014, ref: 38980

Study design

Multicentre non-randomized intervention study with an intervention and a control group

Primary study design


Secondary study design

Non randomised study

Trial setting


Trial type


Patient information sheet

Not available in web format, please use contact details to request a participant information sheet.


Dietary status of schoolchildren and prevalence of childhood obesity


A convenience sample was chosen to make the study feasible resulting in a non-randomized design. In total, 164 children from two schools were included, 55 in the intervention group and 109 in the control group.,

Intervention: A cold healthy school meal prepared according to the Norwegian dietary guidelines was served every school day for one full school year (August 2014- June 2015) (wholegrain bread, healthy spread, milk, fruit/vegetables). A local cook administered the serving of the meals.

Control: The children ate packed lunch brought from home as they normally do in Norway.

Intervention type



Drug names

Primary outcome measure

Dietary habits at school, assessed using questionnaires answered by children and their parents in August 2014, January 2015, and June 2015

Secondary outcome measures

1. Meal pattern, learning environment, motivation for learning, assessed using questionnaires answered by children and their parents in August 2014, January 2015, and June 2015
2. Weight status: height, weight and waist circumference of children measured in August 2014, January 2015, and June 2015

Overall trial start date


Overall trial end date


Reason abandoned (if study stopped)


Participant inclusion criteria

1. 10-12 year-old children and their parents
2. Gender: boys and girls
3. All ethnic groups

Participant type


Age group




Target number of participants


Total final enrolment


Participant exclusion criteria

1. Children without written parental consent
2. Children who did not want to participate since the intervention was voluntary

Recruitment start date


Recruitment end date



Countries of recruitment


Trial participating centre

Birkeland Elementary School
Valtjønnveien 41

Sponsor information


University of Agder

Sponsor details

Serviceboks 422

Sponsor type




Funder type


Funder name

University of Agder

Alternative name(s)

Funding Body Type

Funding Body Subtype


Funder name

A local cook in Birkeland County, Trude Karlsen

Alternative name(s)

Funding Body Type

Funding Body Subtype


Funder name

Kiwi Birkeland and Bakers Lillesand (local food stores providing food for the study)

Alternative name(s)

Funding Body Type

Funding Body Subtype


Funder name

Birkeland Medical Center

Alternative name(s)

Funding Body Type

Funding Body Subtype


Funder name

The Norwegian Womens Public Health Association

Alternative name(s)

Funding Body Type

Funding Body Subtype


Funder name

Aust-Agder county council

Alternative name(s)

Funding Body Type

Funding Body Subtype


Results and Publications

Publication and dissemination plan

1. Illøkken et al. Intervention study on school meal habits in Norwegian 10–12-year-old
children, SJPH 2017, Published
2. Vik et al. Possible effects of a free, healthy school meal on overall meal frequency among 10-12-year-olds in Norway: The School Meal Project , BMC Research Notes, Submitted
3. Effect paper on school meal habits, In progress
4. Heslien et al. Effect of a free school meal on the intake of fruit, vegetables and unhealthy snacks: results after one year. In progress

IPD sharing statement
The datasets generated during and/or analysed during the current study are/will be available upon request from Prof. Frøydis N. Vik. Type of data: questionnaire data and height/weight/waist entered in a SPSS file. The data are available on reasonable request to other research colleagues who are interested in this area of research and will be kept on password-secured PC at the University of Agder for 10 years. Consent was obtained from the parents of the children since they were under the age of 16. ID numbers were used to match parent and child questionnaires. No names were visible on any questionnaire. A key with ID numbers and names existed at the start of the project, but is now deleted. Ethical clearance in Norway is very strict, and opt out is not an option for participants under the age of 16. Every child must therefore have a written consent from a parent/legal guardian in order to participate in the study. All the children in the intervention group were offered a free school meal regardless of whether they had a parental consent to fill in the questionnaire and be measured (H/W/WC) or not.

Intention to publish date


Participant level data

Available on request

Basic results (scientific)

Publication list

2017 results in:
2019 results in: (added 08/07/2019)

Publication citations

Additional files

Editorial Notes

08/07/2019: Publication reference and total final enrolment number added.