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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

An Examination of Local Wellness Policies as Predictors of Student Obesity and Diabetes in School-Age Children
by Milani, Natalie, Ph.D., Northcentral University, 2016, 275; 10092280
Abstract (Summary)

The problem addressed in this study was a decade after the Child Nutrition and WIC Reauthorization Act mandated implementation of school-based local wellness policies, the prevalence of childhood obesity and incidence of diet-related chronic diseases including Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes had not shown significant coinciding reductions. The purpose of this quantitative study utilizing a correlational research design examined hypothetical directional relationships between comprehensive federal mandate content and strong language that was specific and directive in local wellness policies, and the prevalence of obesity and incidence of diabetes in school-age children through the diffusion of innovation theoretical framework. Stratified, random sampling of obesity and diabetes data for school-age children grades K–12 represented outcome variables. Purposive sampling of local wellness policies was utilized to obtain the comprehensiveness and the language strength scores for the implementation, evaluation, and communication components of policies, which then represented predictor variables. The research method employed a secondary analysis of the outcome variables, collected by the Pennsylvania Department of Health for the academic year 2012–2013 utilizing hierarchical linear modeling. Higher content comprehensiveness scores reflected lower prevalence of obesity in K–6th grade (t(40) = -3.03, β = -4704.86, p = .004) and 7th–12th grade, (t(39) = -2.65, β = -3893.79, p = .012); likewise, a lower incidence of Type 1 diabetes, (t(40) = -3.39, β = -250.58, p = .002), for K–12th grade. The mean language strength score of 20% was consistent with previously reported outcomes; however, a predictive relationship between the prevalence of obesity and language strength scores was inconsistent with the hypothesized correlational relationship expressed in previous studies. Comparative score evaluations suggest that language strength scores did not necessarily hinder communication channels for the diffusion of an innovation, such as local wellness policies and the implementation of federally-mandated content that is comprehensive. Further discernment is necessary to avert the premature deaths associated with childhood obesity and, simultaneously, the correlated epidemics of obesity and diabetes.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Watkins, Julia A.
Commitee: Burrus, Scott, Eleweke, Chukwuemeka
School: Northcentral University
Department: Education
School Location: United States -- Arizona
Source: DAI-A 77/08(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational leadership, Nutrition, Public health
Keywords: Child nutrition, Pennsylvania, School-age children, WIC
Publication Number: 10092280
ISBN: 978-1-339-59778-2
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