Evaluating school policies to prevent childhood obesity in Arkansas

Obesity among children in the United States is increasing at an alarming rate, particularly among low-income children. Because the causes of obesity are complex and multifaceted, so too must be the approaches to prevention. Schools are uniquely positioned to affect children's environment by promoting healthy eating and physical activity. Some states and local school systems have begun to implement policy changes directed at issues such as improving food services, eliminating soda and other low-nutrient/high-calorie foods, and requiring physical education that is more regular and more encouraging of lifetime fitness. However, many of these policies and requirements have not been tested for effectiveness and acceptability to parents, teachers, and children. The purpose of this project is to take advantage of the timing of legislative initiatives in Arkansas and California to evaluate the effectiveness of school-based initiatives in reducing childhood obesity. The Arkansas law in particular is the most comprehensive to date and will permit a careful assessment of the processes and changes that occur as school policies are implemented. The project includes three interrelated components: (1) development and epidemiologic analyses of a centralized database with body mass index data on all school children in Arkansas; and (2) quantitative baseline assessment of children's diet and physical activity, as well as qualitative assessment of school environment before the Arkansas policies are implemented.

Grant Details

Amount Awarded $812,620.00

Awarded on: 1/27/2004

Time frame: 2/1/2004 - 1/31/2007

Grant Number: 50262


University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences College of Public Health

4301 West Markham Street
Little Rock, 72205-7199


James M. Raczynski
Project Director


Joseph W. Thompson
Project Director