Schools are important settings for the promotion of healthy diet and sufficient physical activity to prevent civilisation diseases related to lifestyle.

To describe school physical activity and nutrition environment in elementary schools in Poland, and to asses differences in school physical activity and nutrition environments, depending on school location and size.

Material and methods:
Data was used from the World Health Organisation European Childhood Obesity Surveillance Initiative (COSI) conducted in 2016 in 135 Polish schools. Logistic regression was used to asses association between the location and individual school environment indicator. On the basis of answers to 20 questions about school physical activity and nutrition environment, a positive school environmental assessment index was compiled.

Large, urban schools were characterised by a significantly greater availability of sweet snacks, whereas flavoured milk with added sugar was more often available in small and rural schools. The univariate logistics analysis parameters showed that an urban-rural location had a significant association for the availability of an indoor gym and existence of a canteen and a shop. Analysing the positive schools environmental assessment index, there were no statistically significant differences in mean values due to location, but statistically significant differences were found depending on the school size, with the highest level in large schools and the lowest in small schools.

The factor which adversely differentiates the school environment in terms of healthy nutrition and physical activity is primarily the school size, and then the school location. Systemic and social solutions should aim at reducing the small school “exclusion syndrome”, both in rural and in urban areas, also with regard to infrastructure and availability of conditions conducive to healthy nutrition and physical activity.

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