Assessing the Impact of the Mississippi Healthy Students Act on Childhood Obesity: Year Two Research

The Center for Mississippi Health Policy has released a report summarizing key findings from the second year of research, funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and The Bower Foundation, evaluating the impact of the Mississippi Healthy Students Act.  The Year Two Report, Assessing the Impact of the Mississippi Healthy Students Act, presents the results of studies conducted by three Mississippi universities that provide valuable information for educators and policy-makers as they look toward the next few years of the Act’s implementation.  The universities collaborating with the Center on this project were the University of Southern Mississippi, Mississippi State University, and the University of Mississippi.

Key Findings from Year Two Research

The Mississippi Healthy Students Act was enacted by the Mississippi Legislature in 2007 in an effort to improve physical education, nutrition, and health education in the state’s public schools.  The Act represents a major effort of state officials to address the state’s high rates of childhood obesity.  For more information on the content of the Act and implementation of its requirements, click HERE for a summary on the Center’s website.

Research results indicate considerable progress in implementation of school wellness policies but also point to areas where more work is needed. Schools have made significant progress in moving away from fried foods, with more than a quarter of schools having totally eliminated fryers from their cafeterias.

Researchers found a close relationship between the fitness of children and their academic performance.  Children with greater levels of fitness scored higher on standardized tests — in both math and language arts — and were absent less often.

Parent surveys revealed that there had been little change in the home environment from 2009 to 2010.  Family eating and physical activity patterns remained relatively constant except for an increase in the consumption of sodas.

Copies of the summary report, as well as the detailed reports from each of the universities can be downloaded by clicking the links at the left.  Printed copies of the summary report are available by contacting the Center for Mississippi Health Policy at 601-709-2133 or by e-mail at info@mshealthpolicy.com.