Center for Public Health Nutrition

hild Care & Obesity Prevention

Policy Legislation and Nutrition (PLAN): What Works to Improve Student Health?

Group of StudentsThe PLAN research project examined the effects of legislation that required school districts to develop nutrition and physical activity policies. Washington State Senate Bill 5436 required all public school districts to develop a nutrition and fitness policy by the start of the 2005-06 school year. In addition school districts that participate in the national USDA School Meal Program were required to have a Wellness Policy by the start of the 2006-07 school year. PLAN was funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Healthy Eating Research Program.

The goals of the project were to: (1) learn about strategies used to develop local school nutrition policies, the content of the policies, and how the policies were implemented and enforced; and (2) determine how school nutrition policies relate to foods sold at school and students’ diets.

Policy Legislation & Nutrition Plus Physical Activity (PLAN+)

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's (RWJF) Active Living Research (ALR) Program provided supplemental funds for school nutrition policy study originally funded by RWJF’s Healthy Eating Research (HER) program. The ALR supplement built upon the original grant by including measures of physical activity environments and policy quality. Physical Education teachers in participating schools were interviewed on the implementation of their district’s fitness policy. Written policies were scored using a national tool to assess policy quality. Policies were also compared to state requirements.

Results are being disseminated to local school districts, staff at the state health and education agencies, policy advocates, and elected officials to support implementation of the best practices to improve student health.

Evaluation Team: Donna B. Johnson, PhD, RD - Center for Public Health Nutrition; Victor Colman, JD - Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition; Anne Lund, RD, MPH - Center for Public Health Nutrition; Social Development Research Group Staff; Bob Lutz MD, MPH - Spokane Public School District; Marian Neuhouser PhD, RD - Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center; Additional PLAN+ Investigators: Mollie Greves, MD; Amy Lutz, MAT

PLAN Partners: Center for Public Health Nutrition; WA Action for Healthy Kids; WA State Department of Health; STEPS to a Healthier WA; King County STEPS to Health; USDA Fresh Fruit & Vegetable Program; Coordinated School Health Program; Childhood Obesity Prevention Coalition

Project Dates: PLAN 2006 - 2009; PLAN+ 2007-2009

Funding: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Healthy Eating Research Program; Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Active Living Research Program

Publications

  • Impact of School District Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Policies on Student Beverage Exposure and Consumption in Middle Schools. Johnson DB et al. Journal of Adolescent Health. 2009 abstract
  • A Comprehensive Coding System to Measure the Quality of School Wellness Policies. Schwartz et al. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2009
    abstract
  • Development and Validation of a Beverage and Snack Questionnaire for Use in Evaluation of School Nutrition Policies. Neuhouser M et al. Journal of the American Dietetic Association. 2009 abstract