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ERIC Number: ED508204
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2010
Pages: 120
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: N/A
Evaluating the Impacts of School Nutrition and Physical Activity Policies on Child Health. PRGS Dissertation
Fernandes, Meenakshi Maria
RAND Corporation, Ph.D. Dissertation, Pardee RAND Graduate School
This dissertation evaluates the impact of elementary school policies on child health behaviors and obesity in the United States. Two chapters address nutrition policies, two chapters address physical activity policies, and a final chapter estimates the health care cost savings associated with a decline in childhood obesity prevalence. The use of large national datasets allows for the investigation of disparities by child, school and regional factors. This is in contrast to other studies which are based on a limited geographic area or small, demographically homogeneous samples. Policymakers have promoted restrictions on competitive foods, which are subject to minimal federal regulations and typically have low nutrient value. I find that many states implemented a limit or nutrition standard between 2004 and 2007 and that these policies have had the intended effect of limiting sugar-sweetened beverages and increasing the availability of low-fat snacks and sweets in schools. While restrictions on availability are associated with lower school-based consumption, no impact on obesity is found. Plausible explanations include that children respond to restrictions by substituting purchases from outside of school and that children's purchasing power increases as they age. In regards to physical activity, I find that children from disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to attend schools with poorer gymnasium and playground provision. Furthermore, having a gymnasium is associated with more time in physical education class. A related analysis finds suggestive evidence that an expansion of physical education and recess programs to meet national recommendations would mitigate body mass increase. While school policies are a promising tool for obesity prevention, few interventions have proven effective. However, even a small effect could imply sizeable health benefits over the life-course. Estimates from my simulation model suggest that a 1% decline in childhood obesity would result in lifetime savings of about $1 billion. State Competitive Food Limits and Standards in Place in April of 2004 and 2007 are appended. A bibliography is included. (Contains 19 tables, 7 figures and 5 footnotes.) [This dissertation was submitted as a dissertation in December 2009 in partial fulfillment of the requirements of the doctoral degree in public policy analysis at the Pardee RAND Graduate School (PRGS). It was supported by the Jim Lovelace Foundation and Active Living Research (a national program of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation).]
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Publication Type: Dissertations/Theses - Doctoral Dissertations
Education Level: Elementary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation; RAND Health
Authoring Institution: Frederick S. Pardee RAND Graduate School
Identifiers - Location: United States