Online Program

District demographic characteristics not related to above average wellness policy scores in Minnesota

Tuesday, November 5, 2013 : 2:30 p.m. - 2:48 p.m.

Carlie Hanson, MPH(C), College of Health Professions and Social Work, Temple University, Philadelphia, PA
Pamela Hoffman, MPH, Department of Health Sciences, University of Alaska Anchorage, Anchorage, AK
Cynthia Davey, MS, Biostatistical Design and Analysis Center, Clinical Translational Science Institute, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
Marilyn S. Nanney, PhD, MPH, RD, Dept of Family Medicine & Community Health, Program in Health Disparities Research, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN
Background: Evaluations of school wellness policies are important to understanding school settings. Purpose: To identify the characteristics of Minnesota school districts that exceeded the state's average wellness policy score.

Significance: State, district and school policies and practices may be associated with student diet and activity behavior, weight outcomes and academic achievement.

Methods: 143 district-level policies were collected from Minnesota school district websites using stratified random sampling in spring 2012. Using the WellSAT instrument, key policy areas were examined: Nutrition Education/Wellness Promotion, Standards for USDA Child Nutrition Programs and School Meals (USDASM), Nutrition Standards for Competitive and Other Foods and Beverages, Physical Education and Physical Activity and Evaluation. Each policy area received a strength and comprehensiveness score (0-2, 0=doesn't exist, 2=strongly stated). Inter-rater reliability (88%) was excellent. Individual school districts were compared to state average scores and graded (didn't meet, exceeded). Differences by district demographic variables of total enrollment, free and reduced priced meal enrollment, minority enrollment and geography were examined using Fisher's exact test.

Results: Districts with a higher percentage (>60%) of low-income students exceeded the state average for Evaluation strength (50% high versus 16% low, p=.007); comprehensiveness (57% high versus 24% low, p=.022) and USDASM comprehensiveness (50% highest versus 22% lowest, p=.043) No other significant differences existed by size, geography or minority enrollment.

Conclusion: Findings indicate that there are likely other factors contributing to stronger and more comprehensive wellness policies in Minnesota. Future studies should examine the role of wellness champions in the school, including school administration/staff and parents.

Learning Areas:

Public health or related organizational policy, standards, or other guidelines

Learning Objectives:
Identify three characteristics of Minnesota school districts that exceeded the state's school wellness policy score average. Examine at least two other areas to incorporate into future school wellness policy analyses.

Keyword(s): School Health, Policy/Policy Development

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been working on analysis and translation policy driven data since 2011 with the University of Minnesota. In addition to the analysis of school district-level wellness policies, I have also worked on nutrition and physical activity policies and practices in child care settings and secondary schools.
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.