Cancer Control Research5R03CA129964-02
IMPACT OF SCHOOL POLICY ON RISK FACTORS FOR YOUTH OBESITY
DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Improvements in school nutrition and physical activity policies are increasingly being proposed as a significant way to prevent obesity in youth. We propose to study the effect of Washington State's legislative mandate that all schools implement school nutrition physical activity policies by August 1, 2005. We will study the extent to which a statewide mandate impacts the development of nutrition and physical activity policies in schools, and how these policies affect youth nutritional behavior. We will compare findings in Washington to those in Oregon, which had no state-mandated school nutrition and physical activity policy requirement during the same period. We will then measure the impact of the 2006 implementation of the federal wellness policy required by section 204 of the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act of 2004 in both states on local policy implementation and youth nutrition and physical activity behavior. We believe that improved school environments and student healthy eating and physical activity will be associated with the quality of implementation of a legislatively mandated policy requirement. Using public health surveillance data (e.g. School Health Profiles, Washington State Healthy Youth Survey, Oregon Healthy Teen Survey), we will describe trends and measures in both states for school policy and environments (e.g., availability of healthy/other foods to students, physical activity programs) and student behaviors and outcomes (e.g., fruit/vegetable and soda consumption, time spent physically active, BMI). We will also determine the characteristics of schools associated with optimal local policy adoption, using a school nutrition and physical activity policy-scoring instrument. Characteristics of youth, particularly those of disparity populations, will also be studied for their association with healthy eating and physical activity. We will use a longitudinal quasi- experimental double-pretest non-equivalent groups design with four statewide biennial assessments (2002 through 2008) of students and secondary schools in both states. We will describe the magnitude of the observed effects and test their significance using a general linear mixed model regression analysis. Our study proposes to fill knowledge gaps in several major areas: (1) the relationship between broad policy mandates and actual adoption of policies in schools; (2) the extent to which policies are associated with student behavior change; and (3) the extent to which the effects of school policy on student nutrition and physical activity behaviors may be different among students of different genders, grades, race/ethnicities, SES, and levels of school attachment. Results will be disseminated to policy makers and school administrators to further policy development, and to the scientific community to increase understanding of the relationship between legislative mandates, policy implementation, and healthy youth behaviors. This research proposes to analyze existing public health surveillance data to evaluate the impact of state and federal policy mandates on changes in school policies and practices for physical activity and nutrition and whether these policies and practices influence healthy youth behaviors. The use of existing surveillance data is an approach that can be shared by all states to build an evidence base on school policy interventions.