243326 Best practices to evaluate the impact of school health policy on childhood obesity

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Abigail Gamble, PhD, CHES , The Mississippi Delta Health Collaborative, Mississippi State Department of Health, Greenwood, MS
Dwight Waddell, PhD , Health, Exercise Science and Recreation Management, The University of Mississippi, University, MS
John Bentley, PhD , Department of Pharmacy Administration, School of Pharmacy, University, MS
Jeffrey S. Hallam, PhD, CHES , Center for Health Behavior Research, The University of Mississippi, University, MS
INTRODUCTION: Evaluation of health outcomes linked to obesity policy is essential to advancing the science of policy evaluation and policy change. A methodological limitation in obesity research is that body mass index (BMI) is used as the sole criterion for obesity-mortality associations and health outcomes - without considering excess adipose tissue location. It is possible to be at increased risk for chronic disease without being overweight or obese as defined by BMI standards. METHODS: Anthropometric measures and BMI were assessed on 1,136 elementary school-age children in Mississippi. RESULTS: The prevalence of overweight and obesity (BMI > 85th percentile) was 47.1% (18.3% overweight and 28.8% obese). For this sample, 59.9% and 42.0% were “at risk” for weight-related chronic disease based on waist circumference (WC > 90th percentile) and waist-to-height ratio (WtHR > 0.5), respectively. There were differences among three diverse school districts in total body weight (p < 0.0005), BMI (p < 0.0005), WC (p < 0.0005), and WtHR (p < 0.0005). CONCLUSIONS: It is clear that the obesity epidemic continues to manifest in minority children of low SES and does so at an increasingly young age. In 2007, the State legislature in Mississippi passed the “Mississippi Healthy Students Act” that requires increased physical activity and healthy dietary environments for children at school. Measureable health outcomes should include WtHR because it accounts for growth in both WC and height over age, and may be a more accurate tracking indicator of fat distribution used to predict subsequent health risk.

Learning Areas:
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Following this presentation participants will be able to: 1. Define the childhood obesity epidemic and subsequent health risk in elementary school-age children in the Mississippi Delta. 2. Identify two weight-related health risk measures used in conjunction with body mass index to assess health outcomes of obesity policy. 3. Discuss the importance of policy evaluation as a means to advance the science of policy change to promote public health.

Keywords: Evaluation, Policy/Policy Development

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I am the principle investigator; I conducted all data collection.
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.