Impact of nutrition and physical education school policies on childhood obesity: Understanding the implementation process and its impact on behavioural and weight outcomes

The prevalence of childhood obesity is rapidly increasing in Canada, increasing fivefold for both boys and girls from 1981-99. As the genetic characteristics of the human population have not changed in the past 30 years, childhood obesity is thought to be caused by behavioural and environmental factors that predispose children to consume more calories than they expend. Obesity is also linked to a number of diseases, including cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and some cancers. Schools provide an ideal setting to intervene on children’s behaviours. Recently, policy strategies have been proposed to change the school environment to limit access to unhealthy food and to increase opportunities for children to be more physically active. However, these changes are taking place without the scientific evidence necessary to support these strategies. Louise Mâsse is examining the impact of school-based policies on changing nutrition and physical activity behaviours among children. In addition, she is identifying the factors that prevent from implementing healthy school policies and creating healthier environments. The results of her study will provide insightful information for policy-makers to improve the health of BC children