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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

What Are the Implications of State Wellness Policy Standards for Educational Leaders?
by Kanary, Donna, Ed.D., The George Washington University, 2021, 143; 28320086
Abstract (Summary)

The School Lunch and Child Nutrition Act of 1966 was reauthorized as the Child Nutrition and Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Reauthorization Act of 2004 (CNA, 2004). This legislation mandated all school systems participating in the National School Lunch program initiate a wellness policy by 2006 (SNA, 2005). In response, states developed wellness policy templates to guide school systems in policy development. The CNA was reauthorized as the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 and 2016 (HHFKA). Child nutrition, physical activity, and academic performance became part of educational policy in the HHFKA (Federal Register, 2016). According to Welk et al. (2010), constituents must recognize that academics and health are complementary, not competing factors in education.

Story, Nanney, and Schwartz (2009) stated, “schools alone cannot solve the childhood obesity epidemic, it also is unlikely that childhood obesity can be reversed without strong school-based policies” (p. 72). School leaders are advocates in addressing policy standards to improve student health and academic success.

A content analysis was conducted on state wellness policy templates to evaluate the relationships between obesity, high school graduation, and physical education practices. The School Wellness Policy Evaluation Tool (SWPET) developed by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation was used for analysis. Wellness policy models for each state and the District of Columbia (N = 51) were evaluated for strength (specificity of language) and comprehensiveness (items mentioned) using the SWPET. The relationship between strength and obesity (r2 = .05; r = -.22), graduation (r2 < .001; r = -.03), as well as comprehensiveness scores for obesity (r2 = .04; r = -.20) and graduation (r2 < .001; r = -.03) was investigated through regression.

Using Cohen’s d, a small effect (d = .19) was found between obesity rates in states that offer physical education on all levels and states that do not. Heroux (2017) classifies the effect size for physical education and graduation as large (d = .68). Although these findings may be spurious due to the timing of the available data, they do warrant more research on the impact of wellness policies on obesity, graduation rates, and physical education.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Dannels, Sharon A.
Commitee: DeSander, Marguerita K., Colvin, Allison Y.
School: The George Washington University
Department: Educational Administration & Policy Studies
School Location: United States -- District of Columbia
Source: DAI-A 82/9(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Educational leadership, Nutrition
Keywords: State wellness policy standards, Child nutrition, School lunch
Publication Number: 28320086
ISBN: 9798597066165
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