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Document Type

Thesis - University Access Only

Award Date


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Health and Nutritional Sciences

First Advisor

Jessica Meendering


Background: The purpose of this project was to determine if differences exist in strength, comprehensiveness, perceived implementation, and barriers of school wellness policies between public school districts of varying size in South Dakota. Methods: All public school districts within South Dakota (N=151) were contacted and asked to submit their current wellness policy. The strength and comprehensiveness of each written policy was assessed via WellSAT. An electronic invitation to complete the School Nutrition and Physical Activity Practices Survey was sent to all Kindergarten-12th grade school principals (N=96) to assess perceived policy implementation and barriers. Results: Wellness policies were collected from 70 schools districts (large=10, medium=29, small=31). WellSAT combined scores for strength and comprehensiveness from large districts (36±24) were lower than scores from medium districts (62±27; p=0.05) and from small districts (64±36; p=0.04). School district size did not have an effect on perception of policy implementation (large=1.7±0.4, medium=1.7±0.4, small=1.7±0.5) nor on raw number of barriers (large=4±3, medium=4.±3, small=5±3). Lack of school health team and lack of support were cited as barriers more frequently in larger districts than smaller districts. Conclusions: In contrast to the hypothesis, these data suggest smaller districts may have stronger, more comprehensive wellness policies compared to larger districts.

Library of Congress Subject Headings

School district size-- South Dakota
Schools --Health promotion services--South Dakota
School children--Health and hygiene--South Dakota


Includes bibliographical references



Number of Pages



South Dakota State University


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