Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Educational Foundations & Research
Marcus Weaver Hightower
Multiple studies have documented the growing controversies in school nutrition public policy. Less is known about the political ideologies, beliefs and diverse perspectives coming from conflicting values and their influence on policy acceptance. Key issues examined are: Does the average US citizen filter their impressions of policies through their core beliefs, values and politics? And, in general, what policies, interventions, and regulations do conservatives and liberals favor?
Utilizing a sequential mixed methods design, Phase I included a survey given to 201 people with both a multi-item closed ended section and an open-ended section. Statistical analysis was performed on the quantitative survey data, with pattern matching and documentation of outliers providing analysis of qualitative data. Findings in Phase I were used to develop questions for Phase II where 8 focus groups--California, North Dakota, Iowa, Connecticut and Florida--shared perspectives on nutrition public policies.
Regression analysis showed political ideology statistically significantly predicts perceptions toward ease of implementation, (p < .001) and efficacy, (p < .001). Beliefs and values about personal responsibility versus government responsibility is at the heart of the debate. This research shows core beliefs, values and political ideology affects preference for more or less government regulations and acceptance of local versus public policies. This is some of the first research to suggest the theory of Politics of Values for how people view nutrition public policies through a lens of core beliefs, values and political ideology. Evidence presented suggests this is one way people make sense of nutrition public policies, affecting perceptions and acceptance of nutrition and other policies.
Implications from this study include, regardless of political ideology, the general public sees local as better. Public policy makers are not perceived as agreeing with the consensus toward local proposals for improving school lunch nutrition. Findings suggest a general consensus for strong evidence-based research on which to build nutrition policy.
Nyenhuis, Jacquelyn R., "Political Ideology, Beliefs And Values As A Framework For Analysis Of School Nutrition Preferences" (2016). Theses and Dissertations. 2055.