Defining Policy Problems in Public Health

Every town Regional School District has been approached by a local public health agency and the Parent Association of one of the District’s five elementary schools, requesting that the District adopt a policy of performing annual BMI screening on every student. BMI results will be reported to parents. Those students whose BMI is above the 85th percentile on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) BMI-for-age growth charts for children by gender will be referred to a registered dietitian for medical nutrition therapy. The issue before the District leadership is how to evaluate the costs and benefits of collecting these data on individual students. District leadership is looking from input from various stakeholders, regarding the adoption of a BMI screening program as part of its overall District Student Wellness Plan 2017-2020. A District hearing on the issue will be held in late October. Use the information in the scenario and supporting external sources to write a definition of the policy problem from a Public Health perspective. Keep in mind that your problem must be defined in ways that the use of public resources is authorized, makes sense, and is likely to be effective. Remember, the “policy problem” is NOT obesity, so please do not frame your issue as responses to our nation’s obesity problem. Your focus must be on potential problems or issues with the proposed BMI screening policy as outlined in the policy scenario. Be sure to: • Articulate the problem concisely and clearly. • Frame the problem as one for which a public policy solution is warranted, appropriate, and likely to be effective. • Avoid vagueness, generalities, rhetoric, and cliché. • Provide preliminary information about what evidence will likely be available to support your definition and interpretation of the problem.

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