A District Wellness Policy: The Gap between Policy and Practice

Brenda Turgeon


This article examines the gap between a federally-mandated wellness policy and its practice in U.S. schools. To address the problem of childhood obesity, the United States government requires school districts to develop a District Wellness Policy (DWP) that promotes a healthy school environment, healthy food choices, nutrition education, and physical education.  This cross-sectional study describes the policy interpretation process and the degree to which the policy has been implemented. Teacher survey results show the emphasis of the DWP is on creating a healthy environment but lacks the health, nutrition, and physical education components called for by the policy. Lack of funding, time constraints, high-stakes testing, and No Child Left Behind combined to undermine teachers in the policy’s implementation. Policies are only as effective as the funding and support provided; therefore, it is crucial for district and school staff to prioritize wellness allowing students to learn and practice habits that support lifelong health.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5539/jel.v2n3p26


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Journal of Education and Learning   ISSN 1927-5250 (Print)   ISSN 1927-5269 (Online)

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