265411 Wellness policies are improving competitive beverage environments in U.S. public elementary schools

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 : 12:50 PM - 1:10 PM

Jamie F. Chriqui, PhD, MHS , Institute for Health Research and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Lindsey Turner, PhD , Institute for Health Research and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Frank J. Chaloupka, PhD , Institute for Health Research and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Introduction: Unhealthy beverages are readily available in US schools. Beginning with 2006-07, school districts participating in federal child nutrition programs were required to implement wellness policies containing competitive food/beverage-related nutritional guidelines. This presentation provides the first nationwide evaluation of how wellness policies have improved competitive beverage environments.

Methods: Wellness policies were obtained annually from nationally-representative samples of US public school districts between 2006-07 and 2010-11 (N=1,242). Policies were coded for prohibitions on: regular soda, other SSBs, and 2%/whole milk. ES data on soda, SSB, and higher-fat milk availability were gathered via annual surveys from ES in these districts (N = 2,120 unique schools). Multivariate logistic regressions models were used that clustered on state, accounted for sampling of schools within districts, and controlled for year, ses, region, urbanicity, student race/ethnicity , school size, state laws, and state child obesity rates. Analyses were weighted to represent ES nationwide.

Results: Over the 5 years, 2%, 14% and 30% of ES had soda, other SSBs, and high-fat milk, respectively, in competitive beverage environments. 13%, 6% and 7% of schools were in districts (but not states) prohibiting sodas, SSBs, or higher-fat milks, respectively. Multivariate models indicated that the odds of offering SSBs and higher-fat milk were 58% (95% CI=.20, .89) and 44% (95% CI=.34, .92) lower in districts with a policy ban, respectively. Soda availability was too low (only 2% of schools) to be affected by district policy.

Conclusion: Wellness policies have reduced availability of high-fat and sugary beverages in US public elementary schools.

Learning Areas:
Public health or related laws, regulations, standards, or guidelines
Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines
Public health or related public policy
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Discuss the congressionally-mandated wellness policies; 2. Describe the impact of the wellness policies on elementary school competitive beverage availability; and 3. Identify opportunities for continued policy expansion and school-level changes.

Keywords: Public Health Policy, Food and Nutrition

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I direct the largest, ongoing nationwide evaluation of the congressionally-manded district wellness policies and I have extensive experience as an investigator, PI or co-PI studying the impact of state and district policies on school practices and student behaviors/outcomes.
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.