School-Based Body Mass Index Screening and Parental Notification in Late Adolescence: Evidence From Arkansas's Act 1220
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School-Based Body Mass Index Screening and Parental Notification in Late Adolescence: Evidence From Arkansas's Act 1220

Abstract

ABSTRACT

Purpose: In 2003, Arkansas enacted Act 1220, one of the first comprehensive legislative initiatives aimed at addressing childhood obesity. One important provision of Act 1220 mandated that all children attending public schools be screened for their body mass index (BMI) and the information sent home to their parents. Since then, eight other states have adopted similar school-based BMI screening and notification policies. Despite their widespread adoption and implementation, there is a dearth of empirical studies evaluating such policies, particularly for adolescents. The aim of this study was to evaluate whether adolescents, who had been previously screened in early adolescence, experienced changes in their health outcomes if they continued to receive screening and reporting throughout late adolescence (11th and 12th grades).

Methods: Secondary data from the Centers for Disease Control’s (CDC) Youth Risk Behavior Survey (YRBS) were analyzed using the method of difference-in-differences. Changes in outcomes between 10th and 12th grade were compared between a group of students who received screenings throughout 11th and 12th grades versus a later comparison group who were exempt from screening and reporting requirements in 11th and 12th grades.

Results: BMI screening and parental notification during late adolescence, given prior screening and notification in early adolescence, was not significantly related to BMI-for-age z-scores, the probability of being in a lower weight classification or exercise and dietary intake behaviors.

Conclusion: Exposing 11th and 12th graders to BMI screening and reporting, given that they had been exposed in prior grades, was not associated with adolescents' health outcomes.

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