258065 Creating nutrition policy change in schools: The Arkansas Experience

Wednesday, October 31, 2012 : 9:00 AM - 9:15 AM

James M. Raczynski, PhD , College of Public Health, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR
Martha M. Phillips, PhD, MPH, MBA , College of Public Health, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR
Jada Walker, MEd , College of Public Health, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR
Amanda Philyaw Perez, MPH , University of Arkansas at Little Rock, College of Public Health, Little Rock, AR
Background: Arkansas Act 1220 of 2003 was an early legislative approach to combat childhood obesity, establishing mechanisms for evidence-based changes in school nutrition and physical activity policies and practices. Though only limited policy changes were specified by law, state and local advisory committees, comprising representatives of a broad range of constituent groups, were established to recommend policy changes at state and local levels. Purpose: This presentation summarizes the process of implementing the Act and presents results from a 9-year evaluation of nutrition policies and practices. Methods: Principals and superintendents in all Arkansas public schools and districts were surveyed annually (75%-84% response rates) to determine the nutrition policies and practices related to vending machines and other competitive food venues during school-sponsored events and fundraising, use of food for rewards, and other policies. A baseline was established in 2004 with annual follow-up through spring 2012. Findings/Results: Observed nutrition policy changes have included reduced availability of vending machines and increased availability of healthier options when vending machines are present. Increased proportions of schools now require healthy options when foods are served at events, and state regulations restrict the number of classroom food events and the use of food or food coupons as rewards. Conclusions: Significant change in nutrition policy and practice has occurred in Arkansas schools since Act 1220 of 2003 was implemented. Significance: The Arkansas experience may suggest strategies for other states interested in creating statewide school nutrition policy change with significant input from a range of state and local constituent groups.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe the elements of Arkansas Act 1220 of 2003 that facilitated school-based nutrition policy change. 2. List the types of nutrition policies that have changed in Arkansas public schools.

Keywords: School Health, Nutrition

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the principal investigator for the Evaluation of Act 1220 of 2003 project from which the data being presented were derived. My interests include prevention and control of chronic diseases; community-based approaches for risk reduction; racial and ethnic health disparities and bringing schools and families together to reduce childhood obesity in the Mississippi Delta. I have numerous publications in peer reviewed journals in this area.
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.