Kathryn W. Hosig, PhD, MPH, RD, Agata Kowalewska, MS, Sharon M. Nickols-Richardson, PhD, RD, and Elena Serrano, PhD. Human Nutrition, Foods & Exercise, Virginia Tech, Wallace (0430), Blacksburg, VA 24061, (540) 231-4900, email@example.com
State officials are struggling to define the role of schools in addressing overweight among children in the United States. Several states mandate or recommend body mass index (BMI) screening with notification of weight status for children identified as overweight or at-risk for overweight. A short questionnaire was sent in February 2006 to parents of elementary school children (N=4456) in one school division in southwestern Virginia to assess opinions toward BMI screening, notification of children's weight status, and nutrition/physical activity resources. Based on a response rate of approximately 30%, respondents indicated that BMI results should be sent to all parents, regardless of BMI level (67%), and information should be mailed directly to the home address (60%) or sent with children in a sealed envelope (31%). The most highly ranked resources were nutrition education in school and after school fitness programs; private sessions with nutrition and fitness professionals were also popular. The most poorly rated choices were support groups, home visits by health professionals, and mailed or emailed information. Common themes for open-ended comments included appreciation for the opportunity to provide input, suggestions to improve school meals and/or increase nutrition and physical education in schools, personal stories of struggles with weight (child or family), and the importance of being sensitive to students' body image concerns and potential for eating disorders. Several parents indicated that doctors, not schools, should address overweight. Results from this survey highlight the importance of obtaining feedback from parents for health initiatives launched by school divisions.
Keywords: School Health, Obesity
Presenting author's disclosure statement:
The 134th Annual Meeting & Exposition (November 4-8, 2006) of APHA