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Progress in Preventing Childhood Obesity: How Do We Measure Up?
range of health-related issues, including nutrition and physical activity. The Act includes a plan for assessing the implementation of local school wellness policies supported by $4 million in appropriated funds (Chapter 4).
A number of organizations have developed model wellness policies and components of those policies. For example, the National Alliance for Nutrition and Activity has developed model nutrition and physical education policies that states and school districts can use and customize to local situations (NANA, 2006). The National Association of State Boards of Education in collaboration with the National School Boards Association has developed the resource Fit, Healthy, and Ready to Learn, which provides sample policies that reflect promising practices (NASBE, 2006). USDA has assembled reference materials in its online Team Nutrition: Local Wellness Policy database (USDA, 2006b). Action for Healthy Kids, in partnership with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has developed the Wellness Policy Tool, which complements the Team Nutrition website and which assists school districts in identifying appropriate policy options (Action for Healthy Kids, 2006). Both websites also include evaluation resources. Additional resources include the wellness policy evaluation checklists developed by state agencies in Pennsylvania and Texas (Pennsylvania School Boards Association, 2006; Texas Department of Agriculture, 2006).
Most evaluations conducted to date have focused on outcome measures related to developing and implementing policy changes at the school or school district level (e.g., structural, institutional, and systemic outcomes). Future evaluations should examine the effect of these changes on students’ cognitive, dietary, and physical activity behaviors, as well as health outcomes. It is unclear at this point whether most schools will have the resources required to conduct further evaluations that focus on behavioral and health outcomes.
A presentation at the committee’s symposium in Wichita, Kansas highlighted the joint efforts of the Kansas Department of Education and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. The two departments are collaborating to develop model wellness policies for school districts throughout the state (Appendix F). Additionally, tools are being developed that individual school districts can use to evaluate the implementation of their wellness policy and a state-level database will be used to track the implementation of these policies in each district. Technical assistance will be provided to the school districts, and efforts are under way to sustain local changes through school health advisory councils. In the next few years, as school wellness policies are adopted and promoted, it will be important to systematically evaluate the implementation of the wellness policies and to focus on sustainability issues.
The development and implementation of coordinated school health