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Development of a School Nutrition-Environment State Policy Classification System (SNESPCS)

Mâsse LC, Frosh MM, Chriqui JF, Yaroch AL, Agurs-Collins T, Blanck HM, Atienza AA, McKenna ML and Igoe JF. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 33(4S): S277-291, 2007. 

Background: As policy strategies are rapidly being developed to address childhood overweight, a system was developed to systematically and reliably classify state policies related to the school nutrition environment. This study describes the development process, the inter-rater reliability to code state policies enacted as of December 2003, and the variability in state policies related to the school nutrition environment.

Methods: The development of the School Nutrition Environment State Policy Classification System (SNESPCS) included a comprehensive review of published literature, reports from government and nongovernmental sources, input from an expert panel, and select experts. Baseline statutes and regulations for each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia were retrieved from Westlaw (data retrieved in 2005-2006 and analyzed in 2006) and pilot testing of the system was conducted.

Results: SNESPCS included 11 policy areas that relate to a range of environmental and surveillance domains. At baseline, states had no (advertising/promotion and preferential pricing) or modest (school meal environment, reimbursable school meals, coordinating or advisory councils, body mass index screening) activities in many of the policy areas. As of 2003, 60% of the states had policies related to the sale of foods in school that compete with the school meal program.

Conclusions: Evaluation of policies that affect the school-nutrition environment is in its earliest stage. SNESPCS provides a mechanism for assessing variation in state policies that can be incorporated in an evaluation framework aimed at elucidating the impact of state policies on the school environment, social norms, and children’s dietary behaviors in schools.

Reprinted with permission from American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

Journal Article (PDF)

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