Assessing the Impact of the Mississippi Healthy Students Act: Year Two Report

This report summarizes the results of several studies comprising year two of an evaluation project assessing the impact of the Mississippi Healthy Students Act on childhood obesity. The second year of examining the impact of this act provides the first opportunity to compare data from one school year to the next, from 2009 to 2010, on implementing regulations aimed at preventing childhood obesity.

The year two report focuses on findings from research examining the relationship between students’ fitness and academic performance; on-site reviews of the nutrition environment in schools; surveys of parents and district officials; and interviews with key legislators.

Key Findings:

  • Children who achieve more fitness zones score higher on standardized tests—in both math and language arts—and are absent less often. This relationship holds true even when other factors, such as grade, race, gender, and socioeconomic status, are controlled.
  • More than a quarter of schools have eliminated fryers, and approximately one-third of schools  report using at least one combination oven/steamer to prepare foods.
  • Researchers noted less training for child nutrition program managers and food service staff; fto students consistently on a daily basis; and of family nutrition education.
  • Where changes are noted, they appear to be toward less healthy eating behaviors, such as a 
  • Understanding of and support for the Mississippi Healthy Students Act remained high among state officials and policy-makers. State leaders uniformly confirm both an awareness of the necessity of childhood obesity prevention and a conviction that Mississippi could do more to improve the effectiveness of policies aimed at prevention.