Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2011

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Ph.D. in Health and Kinesiology

First Advisor

Jeffrey S. Hallam

Second Advisor

Allison Ford-Wade

Third Advisor

John Bentley

Abstract

School environments provide an ideal setting for children to develop and adopt active living behaviors as a way of life. The primary purpose of this investigation was to describe state, district and school level policy regarding in-school physical activity, the school built environment and in-school physical activity of children ages 6 through 11 years in the Mississippi delta. A mixed-methods approach was used to garner a rich understanding of how current policy and the built environment influence in-school physical activity and weight status. Eleven public schools in three districts representing two counties in the Mississippi delta participated in this investigation. The mean physical education class time was 39.2 minutes +8.13 (range 38.33; 95% ci = 37.66 - 40.75). The mean percent of physical education class time spent in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity (MVPA) was 36.43% + 1.5% (95% ci = 33.57 - 39.28), a mean of 13.99 minutes + 5.78 (range 27.0; 95% ci = 12.89 - 15.08). A significant relationship was found between children's in-school physical activity and their BMI (r = 0.629; p = 0.05). There were significant inverse relationships between the presence and quality of amenities to the school built environment and the students BMI (r = -0.619; p = 0.04), waist-to-height ratio (r = -0.819; p = 0.002) and total body weight (r = -0.615; p = 0.044). There was also a significant inverse relationship between the presence and quality of built environment features and waist-to-height ratio (r = -0.713; p = 0.014). There was no significant relationship between children's in-school physical activity and aspects of the school built environment. If students are given the opportunity for unstructured daily physical activity it is likely they will meet current physical activity guidelines. Two of the schools in this investigation provided little opportunity for physical activity through recess and physical education classes and had the highest BMI scores. Not surprising, when students in these schools were given the opportunity to be physically activity they were among the most physically active students in this study. Despite Mississippi state law, school districts and schools are failing to adhere to policies that provide students the opportunity to engage in 150-minutes of weekly physical activity and are in violation of current state law.

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Public Health Commons

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