269968 Are obesity practices in high schools associated with school district wellness policies?

Tuesday, October 30, 2012 : 9:15 AM - 9:30 AM

Julie Metos, PhD, RD , Division of Nutrition, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT
James VanDerslice, PhD , Division of Public Health, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT
Elizabeth Joy, MD, MPH , Division of Public Health, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT
Rebecca Utz, PhD , Department of Sociology, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT
Christy Porucznik, PhD, MPH , Division of Public Health, Department of Family and Preventive Medicine, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT
Norman J. Waitzman, PhD , Economics, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, UT
Background: Policy approaches to obesity prevention gained momentum with The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 (CNRA). Purpose: To examine obesity prevention practices in Utah high schools before and after implementation of the CNRA. Significance: Results will inform school professionals working on wellness policy implementation. Methods: School personnel completed questionnaires regarding nutrition and physical activity practices in high schools in 2004, 2006 and 2008 as part of the School Health Profiles survey. A sample of all high schools participating in both 2004 and 2008 survey years was used to analyze practices over time and to determine implementation patterns. District wellness policy content was compared with the practices reported by high schools, overall and within districts. Results: Schools in districts with mandated wellness policy tenets were no more likely to report nutrition or physical activity practices than schools with weaker or no policy tenets. No similarities in implementation were found among high schools in the same district or by demographic characteristics. The availability of energy dense snacks and beverages decreased 3-5 percentage points, however 92% of schools offered items in 3 of 4 categories of ‘junk food'. Thirty-six percent of principals reported that students could be exempt from physical education classes in 2004 compared to 67% in 2008. Conclusion: No significant relationship was found between a mandated policy guideline and a related school practice. Further work is needed to produce meaningful and sustainable changes in high school practices. Future research should focus on policy implementation tools.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Advocacy for health and health education
Chronic disease management and prevention
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe high school obesity prevention practices before and after the federal wellness policy legislation. 2. Demonstrate need for further emphasis on high school wellness practices and adequate evaluation tools.

Keywords: School Health, Policy/Policy Development

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am principal investigator of the research, part of a dissertation, University of Utah. I am Assistant Professor, Director of Coordinated Masters Program, Division of Nutrition, University of Utah. My research interests focus on child/adolescent obesity prevention. I earned a PhD, University of Utah in Public Health; MPH, Public Health Nutrition, UC-Berkeley; BS Nutrition, University of Utah. Previously, I was Clinical Nutrition Manager, Primary Children’s Medical Center, developing programs and services for children and families.
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.