School Factors Impacting the Obesity Epidemic: Physical Education Policy Implementation Challenges and Opportunities

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The Ohio State University

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Background: Childhood obesity has more than doubled in children and tripled in adolescents in the past 30 years (CDC 2013). Many factors are responsible for this overwhelming increase in obesity rates. Schools are optimal sites to address the obesity epidemic, specifically targeting physical activity. The 2008 Physical Activity Guidelines state “children, 6-17 years of age need a total of 60 minutes or more of moderate and vigorous intensity physical activity per day” (US Department of Health and Human Services 2008). With children spending most of their daily hours in the school setting, it is imperative that schools incorporate physical activity into curricula. The purpose of this study is to explore whether the current state and district-wide physical education policies are being implemented in schools and to examine the consistency of policy implementation. This cross sectional study builds off of concepts from the Socio-Ecological Model of Health Behavior. Subjects: Physical education instructors (n = 19) of children in grades PK-8 from a large urban school district were recruited. Methods: Mail in surveys consisting of sixteen questions adopted from national guidelines about the school’s physical education policy and in-class activities were mailed out to physical education instructors. Demographic information (years of experience, educational level) about the instructors were collected. Survey responses were compared to state and district-wide physical education policies as well as the 2008 School-age Physical Activity Guidelines. Descriptive and correlational statistical analysis was conducted. Results: The results show that schools are not consistently implementing the established policies and children are not meeting the daily physical activity guidelines. Implications: A structured, well-developed physical education policy will help lead a consistent physical activity environment for school-age children in an attempt to make sure daily physical activity recommendations are being met.



school-age, physical education, obesity