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Establishing a Baseline Measure of School Wellness-Related Policies Implemented in a Nationally Representative Sample of School Districts

Brener ND, Chriqui JF, O'Toole TP, Schwartz MB, McManus T. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 111(6): 894-901, 2011.

The Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 required school districts to establish a local school wellness policy by the first day of the 2006-2007 school year. To provide a baseline measure of the extent to which wellness-related policies were implemented in school districts nationwide in 2006, this study analyzed data from the 2006 School Health Policies and Programs Study (SHPPS). SHPPS used a cross-sectional design to measure policies and practices among a nationally representative sample of 538 public school districts. The authors applied a standardized wellness policy coding system to the data by matching each element to relevant questions from SHPPS and calculated the percentage of school districts meeting each element in the coding system. Statistical analyses included calculation of 95% confidence intervals for percentages and mean number of elements met in each area. In 2006, none of the districts met all elements included in the coding system for local wellness policies. In addition, the percentage of districts meeting each element varied widely. On average, districts met the greatest number of elements in the area of nutrition education and the least number of elements in the area of physical activity. By applying a coding system for district policies to an existing dataset, this study used a novel approach to determine areas of strength and weakness in the implementation of local school wellness-related policies in 2006.

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