179289 Beyond Classroom Participation: Cultural and Social Factors Associated with Parent Engagement in School Food and Physical Activity Environmental Change

Monday, October 27, 2008

Sallie C. Yoshida, DrPH, RD , Public Health Nutrition Consultant, Albany, CA
Lisa Craypo, MPH, RD , Samuels & Associates, Oakland, CA
Sarah Samuels, DrPH , Samuels & Associates, Oakland, CA

The establishment of policies to improve the school food and physical activity environment is an important strategy to reduce childhood obesity. Implementation of these policies requires collaboration among many stakeholders within the school community. Parents are an important untapped resource that have the capacity and power to advocate for healthy change in their children's schools. Our investigation explores the cultural and social factors associated with parent engagement including barriers and factors that facilitate parent involvement beyond classroom participation.


Focus group methodology is applied to gather in-depth qualitative data from parents from the six low-income communities participating in the California Endowment's Healthy Eating, Active Communities program. Six 10 one-hour focus groups, conducted this summer 2008, are led by a trained moderator. Content analysis, based on field notes and transcriptions, is conducted to identify themes that are shared across groups.


Anticipated findings will reveal the influence of culture/ethnicity, language, and demographic factors such as age, gender, and family economics on parental engagement in school-related issues around food and physical activity. The study also helps to understand other barriers and factors that facilitate parental involvement. Attaining greater insight of these issues will inform the methods and strategies for engaging parents in school reform.

Research Significance:

This session will highlight the influence of cultural, social, and demographic factors on parental engagement and provides recommendations on methods to reach and involve parents as leaders and change agents in the effort to eradicate childhood obesity.

Learning Objectives:
1) Articulate the role of parents as decision makers and change agents in school issues related to food and physical activity. 2) List three barriers to parental engagement in the effort to improve the school food and physical activity environment. 3) Describe three ways schools can engage parents as decision makers in issues related to the improvement of school food and opportunities for physical activity.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have a doctorate in public health and am a registered dietitian. I am part of the team that conceptualized the study objectives, designed the moderators guide, and will analyze results and report the findings in a written format.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.