K-12 Principals' Perceptions of State and Local Wellness Policies
ABSTRACTSHELTON L. JEFFERIES. K-12 principals' perceptions of state and local wellness policies. (Under the direction of DR. J. ALLEN QUEEN)The prevalence of obesity and a high probability of an increased medical and financial toll have prompted local, state and federal policy makers to enact wellness legislation and related policy. Over the past twenty years, policy dedicated to addressing the epidemic of childhood obesity has increased and in all 50 states. Childhood obesity is defined as an excessively high amount of body fat or adipose tissue in relation to lean body mass, which is categorized by being at or above the 95th percentile while a child or adolescent with a BMI ranging from a ranking of 85th percentile to 94 percentile BMI rank between 2-19 years old have been termed as being overweight. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Body Mass Index (BMI) have provided these data norms for several years to health professionals in a growth chart format. Policy makers, public health officials, and parents are concerned about the implications of the increasing rate of childhood obesity in the U.S. State policymakers are uniquely positioned to serve the needs of both rural and urban communities in their efforts to promote health and reduce childhood overweight and obesity. K-12 principals' perceptions may inform policies and strategies that are perceived to work in the prevention of childhood obesity. The major purpose of this study was to assess the perceptions of K-12 principals in relation to the implementation of local and public policy to combat obesity. The responses of 602 principals in sixteen (16) states where subjected to a univariate Factorial ANOVA analysis to determine if demographic variables influenced principals' perceptions related to wellness policy implementation. The states selected for the study consisted of the eight (8) highest BMI rankings and the eight (8) lowest BMI rankings. The analysis provided data in which significant differences in principal perceptions were found when considering demographics gender, level of experience and BMI level. Descriptive statistics were computed for survey items related to demographics, implementation of health and wellness policies. Frequencies, percentages and standard deviations were determined for each item. A univariate factorial ANOVA test was selected because the researcher is examining one dependent variable, principals' perceptions. The univariate test allows the researcher to have as many independent variables or text factors as desired. In this study the fixed factors or independent variables were gender, level of experience, and BMI level. The researcher seeking to understand the factors that influence principal perceptions of local, state and federal school wellness policies designed to impact or eliminate childhood obesity surveyed K -12 principals from high BMI and low BMI states. The researcher found statistically significant differences in the main effects when considering type of state and gender.