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District wellness policies and school-level practices in Minnesota, USA

  • Nicole Larson (a1), Cynthia Davey (a2), Pamela Hoffman (a3), Martha Y Kubik (a4) and Marilyn S Nanney (a3)...
Abstract
Objective

To compare the strength of district wellness policies with corresponding school-level practices reported by principals and teachers.

Design

District-level wellness policy data were collected from school district websites and, if not available online, by requests made to district administrators in the autumn of 2013. The strength of district policies was scored using the Wellness School Assessment Tool. School-level data were drawn from the 2012 Minnesota School Health Profiles principal and teacher surveys and the National Center for Education Statistics Common Core Data. Generalized estimating equations which accounted for school-level demographics and the nesting of up to two schools within some districts were used to examine ten district policy items and fourteen school-level practices of relevance to nutrition standards, nutrition education and wellness promotion, and physical activity promotion.

Setting

State-wide sample of 180 districts and 212 public schools in Minnesota, USA.

Results

The mean number of energy-dense, nutrient-poor snack foods and beverages available for students to purchase at school was inversely related to the strength of district wellness policies regulating vending machines and school stores (P=0·01). The proportion of schools having a joint use agreement for shared use of physical activity facilities was inversely related to the strength of district policies addressing community use of school facilities (P=0·03). No associations were found between the strength of other district policies and school-level practices.

Conclusions

Nutrition educators and other health professionals should assist schools in periodically assessing their wellness practices to ensure compliance with district wellness policies and environments supportive of healthy behaviours.

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Copyright
Corresponding author
* Corresponding author: Email larsonn@umn.edu
References
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