Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Deborah Lind Mahony

Second Advisor

Esther Seibold

Third Advisor

Jie Chen


The rise of childhood obesity in the past three decades has established this issue as a national health crisis and an epidemic. Schools are primary sites for both the study and the prevention of childhood obesity, because they are environments where most children can be reached, and where children's health habits are influenced (IOM, 2005).

The study was a secondary data analysis using data from the 2000 and 2006 School Health Policies and Programs Surveys (SHPPS). The goal of this study was to examine and compare data pertaining to exercise, nutrition, health screening and education in elementary schools by the economic level of the school and by the year of the survey.

Chi Square Tests were used to examine the relationship between the economic level and the variables in the study, and between the year of the survey and the variables in the study. The Mantel-Haenszel Test was employed to examine the relationship of the economic level with the study variables while controlling for the year.

By year of survey, the results indicated that in 2006, schools were less likely to screen for Body Mass Index/Height and Weight, less likely to provide nutrition education, and less likely to provide nutrition education than in 2000. In 2006, schools were more likely to provide recess in grade four, offer fruit, and not allow junk food at school parties than in 2000.

By economic level, the results indicated that poor schools were less likely to provide soda sports drinks not 100% juice, and were more likely to require physical education than the not poor schools. While controlling for the year of the study, the not poor schools were more likely to offer soda/sports drinks not 100% juice, were less likely to require physical education, and were more likely to offer physical education 3 days or less per week than the poor schools.

The results of this study showed that although there have been some small changes in the school health environment related to preventing childhood obesity, these changes have not met the recommendations of expert groups in the field of childhood obesity.


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