203419 School-based obesity prevention: The role of the school nurse

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Lucas C. Moore, EdD , Health Research Center, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV
Carole V. Harris, PhD , Health Research Center, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV
Andrew S. Bradlyn, PhD , Health Research Center, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV
Melanie Purkey, MS , Office of Healthy Schools, West Virginia Department of Education, Charleston, WV
Don Chapman, MS , Office of Healthy Schools, West Virginia Department of Education, Charleston, WV
Keri Kennedy, MPH , Office of Child Nutrition, West Virginia Department of Education, Charleston, WV
Kristy Blower, MA , Office of Child Nutrition, West Virginia Department of Education, Charleston, WV
Laurie Abildso, MS , Health Research Center, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV
Jessica Coffman, MA , Health Research Center, West Virginia University, Morgantown, WV
Background

Schools can be optimal settings for obesity prevention programs. Within this setting, the school nurse serves as a health educator, an information resource for students and parents, and as a liaison between families and other health care providers.

Purpose

Our purpose was to explore the role of the school nurse in obesity prevention efforts in West Virginia (WV).

Significance

School nurses provide important obesity prevention and treatment services.

Methodology

We surveyed school nurses in conjunction with a state-wide evaluation of WV's obesity legislation The Healthy Lifestyles Act. All school nurses in WV (N = 240) were asked to participate, 214 responded.

Results

School nurses were a common point of contact for students and parents regarding nutrition, physical activity, and weight. For example, 85% of nurses reported receiving questions from students about diet and nutrition and nearly half received questions on physical activity and weight loss methods. The majority of nurses (86%) had also been contacted by parents about their child's diet and nutrition behaviors, 45% received questions about ways to increase child physical activity, and approximately half of the nurses received questions from parents about child weight loss methods. In addition, 61% of school nurses provided counseling to students for weight or body image, and 47% made referrals to health care providers for students with weight problems.

Discussion

School nurses play a vital role in the prevention of childhood obesity. In addition to providing direct care, nurses educate students and parents regarding nutrition, physical activity, and weight related issues.

Learning Objectives:
Describe the role of the school nurse in school-based obesity prevention efforts.

Keywords: School Health, Obesity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a member of a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation funded team which is evaluating the state of West Virginia's childhood obesity legislation - The Healthy Lifestyles Act. I have an Ed.D. in educational psychology from West Virginia University.
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.