This report summarizes the results of several studies comprising Year Three of an evaluation project assessing the impact of the Mississippi Healthy Students Act on childhood obesity. The evaluation measures trends in childhood obesity rates and assesses the implementation of school health initiatives mandated by the Act. Because parents and the home environment can have a major influence on children’s health, the project also includes a parent survey to examine changes occurring in the home and family.
The report concludes that full implementation of the Act requires resources that are in short supply. The State Department of Education has provided considerable technical assistance to schools to help integrate health education and physical activity into the academic curriculum, but components such as family and community involvement or fully functional school health councils take staff time to be effective.
While it appears that positive outcomes have resulted from the changes mandated by the Healthy Students Act, it is clear that further work is necessary to ensure that health improvements are realized by all students and to counteract decades of negative trends. Mississippi is at a turning point and cannot afford to relax its commitment to childhood obesity prevention and coordinated school health.