Obesity prevention in schools: current role and future practice of school nurses

Prev Med. 2007 Jun;44(6):504-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2007.02.013. Epub 2007 Feb 23.


Objective: To determine responsibilities of school nurses in delivering obesity prevention services, assess opinions and beliefs about school-based obesity prevention and determine factors associated with school nurses supporting and providing obesity prevention services.

Method: In fall 2005, a self-administered survey was mailed to 275 school nurses in Minnesota; 221 were returned (response rate=80%).

Results: Most (76%) school nurses supported the use of school health services (SHS) for obesity prevention. The likelihood of nurses supporting SHS for obesity prevention (p=0.009), as well as performing more child- (p=0.016) and school-level (p = < 0.001) obesity prevention tasks increased as perceived support for school-based obesity prevention from health care providers and school administrators, teachers and foodservice staff increased. Nurses supportive of school-based height, weight and BMI screening and parent notification were twice as likely to perform child-level obesity prevention tasks (p=0.021) and more than three times as likely to support using SHS for obesity prevention (p=0.005).

Conclusion: Our study suggests considerable support among school nurses for school-based obesity prevention efforts and a growing interest in providing primary and secondary preventive care services in the school setting. Study findings also speak to the need for preparation, time and support from the school and health provider community.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Attitude of Health Personnel*
  • Child
  • Clinical Competence
  • Female
  • Forecasting
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Health Services Needs and Demand
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mass Screening
  • Middle Aged
  • Minnesota
  • Nurse's Role / psychology*
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Nursing Staff / education
  • Nursing Staff / organization & administration
  • Nursing Staff / psychology*
  • Obesity / diagnosis
  • Obesity / prevention & control*
  • Parents / education
  • Parents / psychology
  • Primary Prevention
  • School Nursing / education
  • School Nursing / organization & administration*
  • Self Efficacy
  • Social Support
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors