E. E. Eggert, H. J. Overby, J. R. Meendering
South Dakota State University, Brookings, SD

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to evaluate if model wellness policies aid schools in writing stronger, more comprehensive school wellness policies (SWP). We hypothesized districts that utilized the South Dakota (SD) model wellness policy would write stronger, more comprehensive SWP than schools that did not use the model policy. Methods: This cross-sectional study contacted all (n=152) public school districts within SD. Ninety-one districts elected to participate by submitting a current SWP and completing an electronic survey. The survey consisted of questions that classified districts into one of two groups: districts that utilized the SD Department of Education supported model wellness policy (MWP; n=56), and those that did not utilize the model wellness policy (NMWP; n=35). After preliminary analysis, groups were further classified into four groups: districts that utilized the model policy and another resource (MWP+; n=28), districts that utilized the model policy and no other resource (MWP-; n=28), districts that did not utilize the model policy but did utilize another resource (NMWP+; n=11), and districts that did not utilize the model policy nor any other resource (NMWP-; n=24). WellSAT was used to assess the total strength, total comprehensiveness, total overall score, and subsection scores (Nutrition Education and Wellness Promotion, Standards for USDA School Meals, Nutrition Standards, Physical Education and Physical Activity, and Evaluation) of each policy. Statistical Analysis: Two group and four group dependent variable comparisons were made using t-tests and one-way ANOVAs, respectively. Statistical significance was set at p≤0.05. Data is presented as mean scores ± SD. Results: No differences were found in total overall score (MWP 76.79±37.94; NMWP 62.07±34.32), total strength score (MWP 25.32±17.59; NMWP 19.07±12.79), or total comprehensiveness score (MWP 51.45±21.23; NMWP 43.00±22.14). No differences were found between MWP and NMWP groups for any subsection scores. In addition, no differences were found between MWP+, MWP-, NMWP+, and NMWP- groups for any scores (all p>0.05). Conclusions: In contrast with our hypothesis, these data suggest model wellness policies may not improve the quality of written SWP. Further research is needed to better understand the specific needs of school districts in order to facilitate the creation of an effective tool to guide SWP development.

NACSM Professional Sponsor: Jessica R Meendering

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