The Need for a School-based Student Obesity Prevention Program: Perceptions of Rural Elementary Principals

Travis D. Armstrong, Clementine Msengi, Sandra Harris


This phenomenological study investigated the perceptions of elementary principals regarding the need for a school-based student obesity prevention at eight, rural elementary schools in North Central Texas. Face to face interviews were the primary method of data collection from the eight participants. Findings indicated that school-based obesity prevention programs are needed to decrease the occurrence of student obesity, improve student diets and health related behaviors, educate families on obesity prevention measures, and improve the academic performance of students. The need to inform and include relevant stakeholders in the creation and implementation of school-based obesity prevention programs was identified as an essential component to the success of the program. The findings provide school leaders with components needed for an effective school-based obesity prevention program along with barriers for consideration.


rural; obesity; elementary; principals


Campos, A., Sigulem, D., Moraes, D., Escrivão, A., & Fisberg, M. (2006). Intelligent quotient of obese children and adolescents by the Weschler scale. Revista De Saúde Pública, 30(1), 85-90.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2015). Childhood obesity facts. Retrieved from

Cooper Institute. (2014). Fitnessgram data results overview. Retrieved from

Creswell, J. W. (2013). Qualitative inquiry & research design: Choosing among five approaches (3rd ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications, Inc.

Falkner, N., Neumark-Sztainer, D., Story, M., Jeffery, R., Beuhring, T., & Resnick, M. (2011). Social, educational, and psychological correlates of weight status in adolescents. Obesity Research, 9(1), 32-42.

Florin, T. A., Shults, J., & Stettler, N. (2011). Perception of Overweight Is Associated With Poor Academic Performance in US Adolescents. Journal of School Health, 81(11), 663-670. doi:10.1111/j.1746-1561.2011.00642.x

Hollar, D., Messiah, S. E., Lopez-Mitnik, G., Hollar, T., Almon, M., & Agatston, A. S. (2010). Effect of a Two-Year Obesity Prevention Intervention on Percentile Changes in Body Mass Index and Academic Performance in Low-Income Elementary School Children. American Journal of Public Health, 100(4), 646-653.

Jansen, P. W., Verlinden, M., Dommisse-van Berkel, A., Mieloo, C. L., Raat, H., Hofman, A., & Tiemeier, H. (2014). Teacher and Peer Reports of Overweight and Bullying Among Young Primary School Children. Pediatrics, 134(3), 473-480. doi:10.1542/peds.2013-3274

Miller, A. L., Horodynski, M. A., Brophy Herb, H. E., Peterson, K. E., Contreras, D., Kaciroti, N., & Lumeng, J. C. (2012). Enhancing self-regulation as a strategy for obesity prevention in Head Start preschoolers: the growing healthy study. BMC Public Health, 12(1), 1040-1048. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-12-1040

Mosuwan, L., Lebel, L., Puetpaiboon, A., & Junjana, C. (2009). School performance and weight status of children and young adolescents in a transitional society in Thailand. International Journal of Obesity & Related Metabolic Disorders, 23(3), 272.

Muriello, L., Driskell, M., Sherman, K., Johnson, S., Prochaska, J., & Prochaska, J. (2006). Acceptability of a school-based intervention for prevention of adolescent obesity. Journal of School Nursing (Allen Press Publishing Services Inc.), 22(5), 269-277. doi:10.1177/10598405060220050501

Office of the Surgeon General. (2010). The Surgeon’s General’s Vision for a Healthy and Fit Nation. Rockville, MD., US Department of Health and Human Services.

Ogden, C.L., Carroll, M.D., Kit, B.K., & Flegal, K.M. (2014). Prevalence of childhood and adult obesity in the United States, 2011-2012. Journal of the American Medical Association, 311(8), 806-814.

Power, T. G., Bindler, R. C., Goetz, S., & Daratha, K. B. (2010). Obesity Prevention in Early Adolescence: Student, Parent, and Teacher

Summer 2017 10

Views. Journal of School Health, 80(1), 13-19. doi:10.1111/j.1746-1561.2009.00461.x

Rural Health Information Hub. (2015). Rural obesity and weight control. Retrieved from

Safron, M., Cislak, A., Gaspar, T., & Luszczynska, A. (2011). Effects of School-based Interventions Targeting Obesity-Related Behaviors and Body Weight Change: A Systematic Umbrella Review. Behavioral Medicine, 37(1), 15-25. doi:10.1080/08964289.2010.543194

Schwimmer, J., Burwinkle, T., & Varni, J. (2003). Health-related quality of life of severely obese children and adolescents. JAMA: Journal of The American Medical Association, 289(14), 1813-1819.

STOP Obesity Alliance. (2014). Why weight? A guide to discussing obesity and health with your patients. Retrieved from

Stratis Health. (201r). Rural health. Retrieved from

Texas Department of State Health Services. (2012). School Health Advisory Council: A Guide for Texas School Districts. Retrieved from

Tobin, K. J. (2013). Fast-food consumption and educational test scores in the USA. Child: Care, Health & Development, 39(1), 118-124. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2214.2011.01349.x

Torre, S., Akré, C., & Suris, J. (2010). Obesity Prevention Opinions of School Stakeholders: A Qualitative Study. Journal of School Health, 80(5), 233-239. doi:10.1111/j.1746-1561.2010.00495.x

United States Department of Health and Human Services, Let’sMove.Gov. (2014). ALet’s Move! - America’s Move to Raise a Healthier Generation of Kids. Retrieved from

Utter, J. J., Scragg, R. R., Robinson, E. E., Warbrick, J. J., Faeamani, G. G., Foroughian,S. S., & Swinburn, B. A. (2011). Evaluation of the Living 4 Life project: A youth-led, school-based obesity prevention study. Obesity Reviews, 12(51), 60.doi:10.1111/j.1467-789X.2011.00905.

Walker, P.D., (2011, Spring). Winning the war against childhood obesity: The role of teachers and schools in early childhood education. Perspectives in Learning: A Journal of the College of Education & Health Professions - Columbus State University, 12(1), 40-45.

Full Text: PDF


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Publication of the National Rural Education Association -

Report problems or questions about to the website to