Introduction The School Obesity-related Policy Evaluation (ScOPE) Study uses existing public surveillance data and applies a rigorous study design to evaluate effectiveness of school policies and practices impacting student behavioral and weight outcomes. Methods The ScOPE Study used a cohort of 50 combined junior−senior and high schools in Minnesota to evaluate the change in weight-related policy environments in 2006 and 2012 and test the effect of policy change on students attending those schools in 2007 and 2013. Exposure variables included school practices about foods and beverages available in school vending machines and school stores, physical education requirements, and intramural opportunities. Primary study outcomes were average school-level ninth grade student BMI percentile, obesity prevalence, daily servings of fruits/vegetables, and daily glasses of soda. Results Availability of fruits/vegetables in schools was associated with a significant increase in total daily intake among ninth grade students by 0.4 servings. Availability of soda in schools was associated with a significant increase in total daily intake among ninth grade boys by 0.5 servings. Less-healthy snack and drink availability in schools was associated with a small, significant increase (1%) in student BMI percentile at the school level. Conclusions Use of a school-level longitudinal cohort study design over a 6-year period uniquely adds to the methodologic rigor of school policy and practice evaluation studies. The ScOPE Study provides marginal evidence that school policies and practices, especially those that restrict vending and school store offerings, may have small effects on weight status among ninth grade students.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Funding is currently provided by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (5R01HD070738-03) and was supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences of NIH, Award Number UL1TR000114. The funding organizations had no role in the design and conduct of the study; collection, management, analysis, and interpretation of the data; preparation, review, or approval of the manuscript; and decision to submit the manuscript for publication. Richard MacLehose had full access to all of the data in the study and assumes responsibility for the integrity of the data and the accuracy of the data analysis.