State school policies and youth obesity

Jenna Riis, Holly Grason, Donna Strobino, Saifuddin Ahmed, Cynthia Minkovitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The objective of this study was to examine relations between state-level school policies and childhood obesity for youth ages 10-17 years. Secondary analysis of the 2003-2006 School Nutrition Environment State Policy Classification System, 2003-2007 Physical Education Related State Policy Classification System, and 2003 and 2007 National Surveys of Children's Health was performed. Eleven nutrition and 5 physical education (PE) domains were examined for elementary (ES), middle (MS), and high school (HS) children. Logistic regression models examined the association of policies on obesity prevalence in 2007 as well as change scores for the policy assessments. Scores for 5 of 11 nutrition domains and 4 of 5 PE domains increased between 2003 and 2006-2007. Controlling for individual, family and neighborhood factors, nutrition policies were positively associated with the odds of 2007 obesity in 3 ES and 2 MS domains and negatively associated with 1 HS domain. Adjusted positive associations also were observed between 2 ES and 1 MS PE policy domains and 2007 obesity. Controlling for covariates, nutrition policy change scores showed positive associations between increases in 1 ES and 1MS domain, and negative associations with 1 ES and 1 HS domain and 2007 obesity. PE policy change scores showed positive adjusted associations between increases in 2 ES, 2 MS and 1 HS domains and 2007 obesity. The findings indicate that state-level school health policies are associated with childhood obesity after adjusting for related factors, suggesting that states with higher obesity levels have responded with greater institution of policies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)111-118
Number of pages8
JournalMaternal and child health journal
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
StatePublished - Apr 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Childhood obesity
  • Nutrition
  • Physical education
  • School policy
  • State policy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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