259231 Creating nutrition policy change in schools: What happens when?

Wednesday, October 31, 2012 : 9:15 AM - 9:30 AM

Jada Walker, MEd , 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
James M. Raczynski, PhD , College of Public Health, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, AR
Background: Arkansas Act 1220 of 2003 was an early legislative attempt to combat childhood obesity. It established mechanisms for evidence-based changes to school nutrition and physical activity policies and practices. Purpose: This presentation presents the findings from a 9-year evaluation of nutrition policy changes and highlights the trajectory of change observed. Methods: Principals and superintendents in all Arkansas public schools and districts were surveyed annually (75%-84% response rates). A baseline was established in 2004 with annual follow-up through Spring 2012. Findings/Results: Over the 9 years, schools modified their nutrition policies and practices in competitive food availability, foods used as rewards, and healthy options offered during school-sponsored events and fundraising. However, the changes in policy have not been steady. Some policies and practices (e.g., offering food in school stores and snack bars) were modified early and have remained infrequent. Many policies (e.g., healthy options in vending machines, students' access to vending machines) were implemented more gradually, and some have evidenced an apparent reversal of policy over time.

Conclusions: Significant change in nutrition policies and practice were observed in Arkansas schools since enactment of Act 1220 of 2003. However, the timing and durability of policy changes have not been consistent across policy types. Significance: Policy advocates should be aware of the propensity of schools to change policies after their initial adoption and prepare to support schools in maintaining policies that are desirable for student health.

Learning Areas:
Advocacy for health and health education
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
1. Identify the temporal patterns of policy implementation in schools 2. Discuss the implications of the observed patterns for policy advocacy

Keywords: School Health, Obesity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am the study director for the Evaluation of Act 1220 of 2003 project at University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Public Health, from which the data being presented were derived. I have presented on school health topics at national professional conferences.
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.