Implementing junk food and beverage marketing bans in schools

by Donahue, Sara Mary Alice, Ph.D., BOSTON UNIVERSITY, 2011, 289 pages; 3483425


Background: Food and beverage marketing directed toward children may be an important contributor to childhood obesity rates. In 2007, Maine became the first state to pass comprehensive legislation limiting junk food and beverage (JFB) advertising on K-12 public school campuses. This dissertation sought to address the current gap in knowledge regarding the ways in which policies addressing school JFB marketing may be implemented and enforced.

Methods: The project used a case study research approach to describe the implementation and enforcement of Chapter 156, Maine's school JFB marketing ban. Data from interviews and direct observations at 20 Maine high schools, documents, and key informant interviews were analyzed using qualitative techniques to identify phenomena that comprised and characterized the implementation and enforcement experience.

Findings: JFB marketing was observed in nearly all of the study schools. State-level policy enforcement was limited and sporadic. Schools were more likely to successfully remove existing JFB marketing and maintain compliance when one or more conditions were present: 1) school staff or beverage companies took responsibility for adhering to, complying with, or enforcing Chapter 156, 2) implementation resources were available, or 3) Chapter 156 was relevant to stakeholders and changes were sustainable.

Research translation: Study findings were used to develop public health practice products. 1) A policy brief reviews state approaches to restrict school JFB marketing, explains lessons learned from Maine, and outlines solutions to common policy implementation barriers. 2) A toolkit proposal describes resources that state and school staff can use during compliance and maintenance activities for the law and associated policies. 3) A teaching case presents a decision-making educational activity that encourages critical analysis of the contextual factors influencing successful school-level implementation of state policies.

Conclusions: Statewide restrictions on school JFB marketing can contribute to the development of school environments that support healthy eating. The Maine experience suggests these policies should use clear, enforceable language to be effective. Further, adequate planning and resource allocation is needed to identify and complete the activities required for implementing and enforcing such policies while addressing stakeholder attitudes and beliefs, school resource constraints, and ongoing school wellness and nutrition initiatives.

AdviserEmily Feinberg
Source TypeDissertation
SubjectsNutrition; Public health
Publication Number3483425

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