Date of Conferral
Public Policy and Administration
United States high school student obesity rates have doubled in the past 30 years to 13%, threatening the health of millions of adolescents. To mitigate the epidemic, Congress passed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) in 2010, which mandated significant changes to school nutrition and physical education. From a public policy perspective, the HHFKA changed school nutrition and exercise policy to affect obesity rates by changing intake and energy expenditure at school, though no study using national-level data examined this relationship. As such, the purpose of the study was to examine whether HHFKA policy compliance had a statistically significant effect on high school obesity rates. The theoretical framework for this study was the energy imbalance theory (EIT), as developed by James Hill, Holly Wyatt, and John Peters. The research questions focused on the relationship of HHFKA nutrition changes and childhood obesity rates. The study used Pearson's Product-moment correlation to test for a simple correlation between Compliance Scores and High School obesity rates. Findings revealed no statistically significant correlation between state high school student obesity rates and HHFKA compliance scores. Future research is needed to validate the findings after more time has passed with the HHFKA mandates in effect. The implications for social change include informing the debate over the efficacy of implementing the HHFKA as currently written to mitigate childhood obesity.