At A Glance

Noteworthy Characteristics

  • Provides detailed information on school lunch options and planning.
  • Describes school food preparation practices and policies.
  • Provides detailed information about physical education program time, content, and requirements.
  • Provides detailed information about school-based physical activity opportunities.
  • Provides information on availability of foods and beverages sold outside the school meals programs.



To collect state, district, school, and classroom-level data about school health policies and practices in the United States (U.S.).

Target Population

Education agencies and elementary, middle, and high schools in all 50 states and District of Columbia.


Began in 1994. Conducted every 6 years at all levels until 2006. State data last collected in 2012. School and classroom data last collected in 2014. District-level data last collected in 2016.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Special Note(s)

Since 2012, SHPPS has been known as the School Health Policies and Practices Study. It was previously known as the School Health Policies and Programs Study.


Sample Design

Cross-sectional survey.

Stratified probability sampling used to obtain nationally representative samples. Learn more about SHPPS 2012, SHPPS 2014, and SHPPS 2016.

Sample Size

SHPPS 2012: 50 U.S. states and District of Columbia, 1048 school districts
SHPPS 2014: 846 schools, 529 health education classes, 791 physical education classes
SHPPS 2016: 740 school districts

Key Variables


Availability of foods and beverages sold outside the school meals programs, state policies
Availability of school lunch and breakfast
Evaluation of the nutrition services program
Promotion of the school nutrition services program
Role of the family in planning the school nutrition services program
State assistance given to school districts to provide more nutritious foods and beverages to students
Techniques used to plan menus
Variety of lunch entrees, side dishes, milk choices, a la carte options

Physical Activity-Related

District required tests, curricula, teaching methods, and hours of health education/physical education
Length of physical education class and activities taught
Provision of daily physical education and hours of instruction
Physical activity facilities and equipment
Physical education/health education standards, guidelines, goals, and objectives
Provision of daily recess at the elementary level
Staffing and staff development for physical education teachers




Class size
Collaboration among staff from each school health program component and with staff from state and local agencies and organizations
Education levels of state, district, and school food service directors and managers
Requirement for teaching of 15 health topics (including nutrition and dietary behavior and physical activity and fitness) at the elementary, middle, and high school levels
Whether states offered district food service directors and managers state certification, licensure, or endorsement

Data Access and Cost

Data Availability

Obtain public-use data for 2012-2016 survey years.

Obtain previous years’ data through the data request form.


Free of charge.


Geocode Variable(s)

State, district, school, classroom.

Existing Linkages

None noted.

Selected Publications

For a full list of publications, visit Journal Articles.


Brener ND, Chriqui JF, O’Toole TP, Schwartz MB, McManus T. Establishing a Baseline Measure of School Wellness-Related Policies Implemented in a Nationally Representative Sample of School Districts. Journal of the American Dietetic Association 2011;111:894–90.1

Brener ND, Pejavara A, Barrios LC, Crossett L, Lee SM. Applying the School Health Index to a nationally representative sample of schools. Journal of School Health 2006;76(2):57-66.

Kann L, Brener ND, Wechsler H. Overview and summary: School Health Policies and Programs Study 2006. Journal of School Health 2007;77(8):385-397.


Anderson PM, Butcher KF. Reading, writing, and refreshments. Are school finances contributing to children’s obesity? Journal of Human Resources 2006;41(3):467-494.

Merlo C, Brener N, Kann, L, McManus T, Harris D, Mugavero K. School-Level Practices to Increase Availability of Fruits, Vegetables, and Whole Grains, and Reduce Sodium in School Meals — United States, 2000, 2006, and 2014. MMWR 2015;64(33);905-908.

O’Toole TP, Anderson S, Miller C, Guthrie J. Nutrition services and foods and beverages available at school: Results from the School Health Policies and Programs Study 2006. Journal of School Health 2007;77(8):500-521.

Sliwa SA, Miller GF, Brener ND, Park Sohyun, Merlo CL. District Policies and Practices Vary in Their Association With Adolescents' Consumption of Milk and 100% Fruit Juice. Journal of Adolescent Health 2017;60(5)577-583.

Physical Activity-Related

Davis KS, Burgeson CR, Brener ND, McManus T, Wechsler H. The relationship between qualified personnel and self-reported implementation of recommended physical education practices and programs in U.S. schools. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport 2005;76(2):202-211.

Everett Jones S, Sliwa S. School Factors Associated With the Percentage of Students Who Walk or Bike to School, School Health Policies and Practices Study, 2014. Preventing Chronic Disease 2016;13:150573.

Lee SM, Burgeson CR, Fulton JE, Spain CG. Physical education and physical activity: Results from the School Health Policies and Programs Study 2006. Journal of School Health 2007;77(8):435-463.

Morrow JR, Fulton JE, Brener ND, Kohl HW. Prevalence and correlates of physical fitness testing in U.S. schools, 2000. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport 2008;79(2):141-148.