Degree Name

Master of Science


Department of Public Health and Nutrition


The research project undertaken was a nutritional assessment of a female boarding school menu. This was completed for two reasons; to assess the adequacy and appropriateness of the menu as well as to compare two different menu assessment tools. The two tools were the 12345+ Food and Nutrition plan, which is an educational tool that quantifies the core food groups and the Diet 1 nutrient analysis computer software program.

Female adolescents can be considered nutritionally vulnerable as they have one of the highest nutrient and energy needs of any life stage and yet they undertake restrictive eating patterns. Female boarding students could be considered even more vulnerable because they have the added pressures of not being able to alter their kilojoule intake as desired in many cases, the menus are sometimes nutritionally inadequate and poor eating habits are established from these factors.

All meals from the menu were analysed by the two different tools. The 12345+ plan involved checking off serves of food groups and comparing them to the recommended number of serves. The meals were also analysed using the Diet 1 software. The nutritional adequacy was judged on meeting the ADl's specified by the NH&MAC for female adolescents and meeting the Dietary Guidelines for Australians. The time taken to analyse the menu data using each tool was measured. The comparison of the two tools was made on the basis of speed and accuracy for the purpose of assessment.

The results of both assessments found that the menu was too high in energy, fat and saturated fat and low in carbohydrate and poly-unsaturated fat. Both sets of assessment results confirmed the other, with the exception of calcium. The 12345+ plan analysis showed a shortfall in the number of serves of milk and milk products whereas the Diet 1 analysis indicated that the calcium ADI was met. Therefore the nutrient composition of the "indulgences" group must be taken into consideration. This highlights an area of caution which must be considered when applying the 12345+ plan. The 12345+ plan analysis was found to be seven times faster than the Diet 1 tool.

This study serves to highlight the need for monitoring of menus in educational institutions. This should not only be the responsibility of the local dietitians as "watch dogs" but the larger school community. One of the ways that this can become a responsibility of school community members is by teaching the use of simple tools such as the 12345+ Food and Nutrition plan which they can apply successfully themselves. This could enable a greater support and encouragement for the food service staff to provide menus closer to the Dietary Guidelines for Australians. This has also served to indicate that the purpose of a menu assessment should be carefully considered before choosing the tool of use, as quicker tools are often all that is required for the purpose.