School Nutrition Policy Implementation Slows Weight Gain in Middle School Students

Most children in the United States spend an average of 6 to 7 hours a day at school, which is why schools have become a priority setting for preventing childhood obesity. Since 2006, school wellness policies have been required to set goals for physical and nutrition education and to set nutrition standards for meals and snacks served. These requirements were strengthened in 2010 with the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act, and while nearly every school district in the country has a written policy to comply with these standards, previous studies have found that strong written policies do not necessarily predict thorough implementation. 

This research, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, aimed to assess whether implementation of specific nutrition and physical activity components of the school wellness policies lead to healthier student outcomes, including BMI trajectories. Findings indicate that implementing strong school nutrition policies results in healthier weight trajectories in middle school students.