Jomaa LH, Chopade SN, Baylis MS, Orlofsky C, McDonnell ET, Probart CK.
Learning Outcome: The reader will be able to determine the areas in school wellness policies that are most frequently addressed versus those least addressed and identify possible gaps when evaluating and monitoring the implementation of policies.
School districts (SD) sponsoring school-meals program are now required to develop Local Wellness policies (LWP) to address childhood obesity. The purpose of this study was to describe the top policy goals related to Nutrition Education (NE), Physical Activity (PA), and Other School-Based Activities (OSBA) to promote student wellness developed by Pennsylvania’s SD. Data from 300 LWP was received, entered, and calculated using Microsoft Access. Descriptive analysis of LWP showed that 83% SD included broad goal where” NE is to teach, encourage, and support healthy eating by students” and only 29% addressed the specific interplay between school food service and NE classes as learning laboratory for students. Similarly, 82% addressed the provision of opportunities for developmentally-appropriate PA yet 47% included a definite target of 60 accumulated minutes of PA and only 53% SD prohibited the use of food as reward or punishment in an explicit OSBA. NE and PA policies involving collaborative efforts with families and community were among the least selected. Fifty four percent of LWP mentioned engaging families and communities in NE, 46% included a goal related to involvement of parents in menu selections, and only 33% included after-school PA programs. In conclusion, SD policies expressed general trends in goal selection with top selected goals presenting broad philosophical statements and legislative requirements; whereas, least selected goals were more specific. Results from this study have direct implications on potential challenges faced when measuring LWP implementation by schools and monitoring organizations.