School Nutrition Programs and the Incidence of Childhood Obesity
In light of the recent rise in childhood obesity, the School Breakfast Program (SBP) and National School Lunch Program (NSLP) have received renewed attention, despite the fact that they have existed for decades. The SBP, in particular, is viewed as a potentially important component of any policy reform designed to combat the increased prevalence of overweight children given the importance attributed to a nutritious breakfast. Using panel data on over 13,500 students from kindergarten through third grade, we assess the relationship between SBP and NSLP participation on (relatively) long-run measures of child weight. While we find more mixed evidence on the association between NSLP participation and child weight, we obtain a relatively robust positive association between SBP participation and child weight, particularly for white children, entering kindergarten in the `normal' weight range, with mothers of moderate education.
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