Changes in School Environments With Implementation of Arkansas Act 1220 of 2003

Department of psychiatry, College of Medicine, University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, Little Rock, Arkansas, USA.
Obesity (Impact Factor: 3.73). 02/2010; 18 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):S54-61. DOI: 10.1038/oby.2009.432
Source: PubMed


Changes in school nutrition and physical activity policies and environments are important to combat childhood obesity. Arkansas Act 1220 of 2003 was among the first and most comprehensive statewide legislative initiatives to combat childhood obesity through school-based change. Annual surveys of principals and superintendents have been analyzed to document substantial and important changes in school environments, policies, and practices. For example, results indicate that schools are more likely to require that healthy options be provided for student parties (4.5% in 2004, 36.9% in 2008; P <or= 0.0001) and concession stands (1.6% in 2004, 19.6% in 2008; P <or= 0.0001), ban commercial advertising by food or beverage companies (31.7% in 2005, 42.6% in 2008; P <or= 0.0001), and offer skim milk options for students in cafeterias (white milk: 26.1% in 2004, 41.0% in 2008, P <or= 0.0001; chocolate milk: 9.0% in 2004, 24.0% in 2008, P <or= 0.0001). They are less likely to have vending machines available during the lunch period (72.3% in 2004, 37.2% in 2008; P <or= 0.0001) and to include sodas in vending machines (83.8% in 2004, 73.5% in 2008; P <or= 0.0001). Other changes were noted in foods and beverages offered in the cafeteria, in classrooms, and at school events, as well as in fund-raising and physical activity practices. A significant number of school districts have modified physical education requirements for elementary schools and developed policies prohibiting the use of physical activity as a punishment. We conclude that Arkansas Act 1220 of 2003 is associated with a number of changes in school environments and policies, resulting from both statewide and local initiatives spawned by the Act.

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