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Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Childhood obesity and the school food environment: Foods consumed during classroom celebrations and perspectives regarding wellness policy implementation
by Isoldi, Kathy Keenan, Ph.D., New York University, 2010, 203; 3404694
Abstract (Summary)

Childhood obesity is poised to cause great personal and societal detriment in the United States, especially for Latino children residing in low-income communities. Excess calories are available for purchase on the school campus though vending machines, school stores, a la carte sales, snack carts and fundraising events. However, little is known about the types of foods and beverages offered and consumed during classroom celebrations. This study explored the types of foods and beverages offered and consumed during classroom celebrations held at an elementary school in a predominately Latino, low-income, urban community. In addition, perspectives held by parents, teachers and school administrators were sought regarding the role classroom celebrations serve, and a local school wellness policy aimed at regulating these events. Direct observations were documented during six separate classroom celebrations when foods and beverages were offered and consumed. A parent survey was conducted (n=125), and semi-structured interviews were held with schoolteachers (n=8) and school administrators (n=3). Students (n=24) consumed foods and beverages containing a mean 444 ± 221 kcalories, far exceeding suggested daily discretionary calories for age. The most commonly offered foods and beverages were low-nutrient, energy dense desserts and sugar-sweetened beverages. Parent surveys revealed that the majority of parents believe classroom celebrations: 1) serve an important purpose, 2) do not offer an opportunity for children to consume excessive calories, and 3) that a food ban during classroom celebrations is not warranted. However, more than two-thirds of parents would support a policy regulating the types of foods and beverages offered during these celebrations. The main themes that emerged during interviews with teachers and school administrators were that local school wellness policies have the power to improve the school food environment, and that improved communication between staff and parents, as well as consistency in carrying out policy regulations are needed for policy efficacy. They also believe that classroom celebrations serve several purposes in their community, and that regulation, rather than a ban is preferred. Future research in differing school environments investigating classroom celebration practices and local school wellness policy acceptance regarding regulation is needed.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Dalton, Sharron
Commitee: Hayman, Laura, McDonald, Joseph
School: New York University
Department: Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health
School Location: United States -- New York
Source: DAI-B 71/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Nutrition, Public health
Keywords: Calories consumed during school parties, Childhood obesity, Classroom celebrations, School wellness policies
Publication Number: 3404694
ISBN: 978-1-124-01892-8
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