Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Sharon Zumbrunn

Second Advisor

Lisa Abrams

Third Advisor

Jessica LaRose

Fourth Advisor

Suzanne Mazzeo


The current study explored the high school health promotion environment with regards to physical activity, nutrition, and sedentary behaviors from the perspective of high school health and physical education teachers and administrators. Specifically, potential strategies for a prevention program to promote student physical activity participation and healthy eating, and decrease student sedentary time were explored.

Individual semi-structured interviews were conducted with physical education teachers to explore potential strategies to promote student health behaviors. Next, interviews were conducted with high school administrators to determine the feasibility of recommended strategies. Teachers and administrators in the current study expressed a need for strategies that target student health at the high school level; however, educators felt taxed and overburdened, and cited the current state of public education as a barrier to implementing strategies. Additional barriers to implementing health-based strategies included funding, transportation, supervision, facilities, and logistics or regulations. Participants explained the school lunch program has improved, with schools now offering healthier food. Unfortunately, the perceived number of students buying lunches has decreased and educators still feel the lunch options could be improved.

Although there were many barriers to implementing the extracurricular initiatives discussed, the following strategies were considered the most feasible by teachers and administrators in the current study: intramurals, open gym times, fitness classes or group exercise classes, fitness apps, and improving the school lunches. Teachers and administrators held mixed views about policy changes that have the greatest potential to influence student health behaviors. Educators called for parent and community partnerships to help overcome the hurdles associated with implementing extracurricular school-based health activities. Findings illustrated the necessity of a multi-faceted approach to implementing health-based strategies at the high school level.


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