• Article

Implementation of local wellness policies in schools


Hager, E. R., Rubio, D. S., Eidel, G. S., Penniston, E. S., Lopes, M., Saksvig, B. I., ... Black, M. M. (2016). Implementation of local wellness policies in schools: Role of school systems, school health councils, and health disparities. Journal of School Health, 86(10), 742-750. DOI: 10.1111/josh.12430


BACKGROUND: Written local wellness policies (LWPs) are mandated in school systems to enhance opportunities for healthy eating/activity. LWP effectiveness relies on school-level implementation. We examined factors associated with school-level LWP implementation. Hypothesized associations included system support for school-level implementation and having a school-level wellness team/school health council (SHC), with stronger associations among schools without disparity enrollment (majority African-American/Hispanic or low-income students).

METHODS: Online surveys were administered: 24 systems (support), 1349 schools (LWP implementation, perceived system support, SHC). The state provided school demographics. Analyses included multilevel multinomial logistic regression.

RESULTS: Response rates were 100% (systems)/55.2% (schools). Among schools, 44.0% had SHCs, 22.6% majority (≥75%) African-American/Hispanic students, and 25.5% majority (≥75%) low-income (receiving free/reduced-price meals). LWP implementation (17-items) categorized as none = 36.3%, low (1-5 items) = 36.3%, high (6+ items) = 27.4%. In adjusted models, greater likelihood of LWP implementation was observed among schools with perceived system support (high versus none relative risk ratio, RRR = 1.63, CI: 1.49, 1.78; low versus none RRR = 1.26, CI: 1.18, 1.36) and SHCs (high versus none RRR = 6.8, CI: 4.07, 11.37; low versus none RRR = 2.24, CI: 1.48, 3.39). Disparity enrollment did not moderate associations (p > .05).

CONCLUSIONS: Schools with perceived system support and SHCs had greater likelihood of LWP implementation, with no moderating effect of disparity enrollment. SHCs/support may overcome LWP implementation obstacles related to disparities.