Nutrition and Health Sciences, Department of


Date of this Version

Spring 4-19-2012


A THESIS Presented to the Faculty of The Graduate College at the University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of Requirements For the Degree of Master of Science, Major: Nutrition and Health Sciences, Under the Supervision of Professor Wanda M. Koszewski. Lincoln, Nebraska: May 2011


Schools have become one of the major fronts that the battle against childhood obesity is being fought. In 2004 the Child Nutrition Act passed by Congress required all school districts receiving funds for the National School Lunch Program to create a wellness policy. Since then there have been many research projects conducted to learn more about these policies, and their implementation as programs in the schools. Thus far, no such research has been done in Nebraska or Indiana. The purpose of this descriptive study is to describe how schools in Nebraska and Indiana are implementing wellness programs in their schools. A concurrent triangulation mixed methods approach combined quantitative survey data and qualitative descriptive data to create an overall description. The data was taken from Action for Healthy Kids applications from both states for the 2009-2010 and 2010-2011 school years and interviews conducted by the researcher. Survey data from both years revealed gradual, but insignificant increases in most categories. A total of 560 descriptions, from both states and both school years, including interviews, were analyzed and coded into themes. The themes and survey data support that a variety of wellness programs are being implemented in schools in Nebraska and Indiana focusing on improving nutrition, increasing physical activity, meeting national guidelines, and improving overall health. Overall, the programs are received in a positive light and schools have reported encouraging results observed from these programs such as, increased physical activity, healthier food choices, positive attitudes toward wellness, increased focus and even improved BMIs.

Advisor: Wanda M. Koszewski