From Paper to Practice: Barriers to Adopting Nutrition Guidelines in Schools

Shauna M. Downs, Anna Farmer, Maira Quintanilha, Tanya R. Berry, Diana R. Mager, Noreen D. Willows, Linda J. McCargar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

57 Scopus citations


Objective: To explore the barriers associated with the adoption of the Alberta Nutrition Guidelines for Children and Youth in schools according to characteristics of the innovation (guidelines) and the organization (schools). Design: Cross-sectional telephone survey. Setting and Participants: Schools in Alberta, Canada. Principals from 357 schools. Main Outcome Measure: Barriers to adopting the nutrition guidelines. Analysis: A 19-question telephone survey, including open- and closed-ended questions, was used to obtain information regarding schools' characteristics and barriers to adopting the guidelines. Qualitative data were coded according to common themes a priori, based on constructs from the Diffusion of Innovations framework. Results: Schools reported many barriers related to the relative advantage, compatibility, and complexity of adopting the guidelines. Parents' resistance to change and cost were the key reported barriers. Lack of knowledge, student preferences, the physical location of the school, and barriers related to the provision of healthful food were also reported. Conclusions and Implications: Disseminating guidelines without providing adequate support for their implementation may not promote change within the school setting. School nutrition initiatives need to involve the parents and have access to sufficient financial and human resource support.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)114-122
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Nutrition Education and Behavior
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2012
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


  • Adolescent
  • Nutrition policy
  • Nutrition sciences
  • Public health
  • Schools


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