198840 School Districts' Wellness Policies in Georgia: An analysis of policy strength, compliance, and factors of influence

Monday, November 9, 2009

Rodney Lyn, PhD, MS , Institute of Public Health, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA
Overview: This study is an analysis of the local wellness policies of 176 out of 180 Georgia public school systems. The purpose of the study was to (1) assess compliance of school districts in Georgia with the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004, (2) evaluate the strength of wellness policy goals, and (3) analyze relationships between demographic characteristics of Georgia school systems and policy compliance and strength. Methods: A copy of districts' wellness policies were collected from school districts. An instrument was developed and pilot tested for the review/evaluation of policies. The evaluation instrument yielded ratings for policy compliance and policy strength (dependent variables). Demographic data from the Georgia Department of Education were used as independent variables. Analysis was conducted using Pearson's correlation (two-tailed) and cross-tabulation. Results: Fifty-one percent of districts were found to be in compliance with the requirements set forth in the Reauthorization Act. Statistically significant positive associations were found between school district academic performance and strength of overall wellness policy goals (p < .05), as well as between academic performance and composite score for goals in nutrition education and other school-based activities (p < .01). Socio-economic status of the student population was found to be positively associated with the strength of nutrition education goals (p < .05). Conclusions: Recommendations are made to strengthen wellness policies, to conduct more research regarding the influence of community involvement on school wellness, and to provide guidance to local school systems having less resources and lower student academic performance.

Learning Objectives:
- Assess school districts’ compliance with the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act - Articulate policy elements that are vital to development of comprehensive school wellness policies - Identify demographic and school-level factors associated with comprehensive wellness policies in Georgia

Keywords: School Health, Wellness

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the principal investigator for the study.
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.