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Breakfast of Champions? The School Breakfast Program and the Nutrition of Children and Families

Listed author(s):
  • Jay Bhattacharya
  • Janet Currie
  • Steven Haider

In this paper, the authors use the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey (NHANES) III to examine the effect of the availability of the school breakfast program (SBP). Their work builds on previous research in four ways - First, they develop a transparent difference-in-differences strategy to account for unobserved differences between students with access to SBP and those without. Second, they examine serum measures of nutrient in addition to intakes based on dietary recall data. Third, they ask whether the SBP improves the diet by increasing/or decreasing the intake of nutrients relative to meaningful threshold levels. Fourth, they examine the effect of the SBP on other members of the family besides the school-aged child. They have three main findings. First, the SBP helps students build good eating habits: SBP increases scores on the healthy eating index, reduces the percentage of calories from fat, and reduces the probability of low fiber intake. Second, the SBP reduces the probability of serum micronutrient deficiencies in vitamin C, vitamin E, and folate, and it increases the probability that children meet USDA recommendations for potassium and iron intakes. Since they find no effect on total calories these results indicate that the program improves the quality of food consumed. Finally, in households with school-aged children, both preschool children and adults have healthier diets and consume less fat when the SBP is available. These results suggest that school nutrition programs may be an effective way to combat both nutritional deficiencies and excess consumption among children and their families.

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Paper provided by RAND Corporation in its series Working Papers with number 189.

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Length: 37 pages
Date of creation: Jun 2004
Handle: RePEc:ran:wpaper:189
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  1. John Burghardt, "undated". "School Nutrition Dietary Assessment Study: Overview of the Study Design," Mathematica Policy Research Reports ff17bfa8e2ae44d59e7c9282e, Mathematica Policy Research.
  2. John S. Akin & David K. Guilkey & Barry M. Popkin, 1983. "The School Lunch Program and Nutrient Intake: A Switching Regression Analysis," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 65(3), pages 477-485.
  3. David M. Cutler & Edward L. Glaeser & Jesse M. Shapiro, 2003. "Why Have Americans Become More Obese?," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 17(3), pages 93-118, Summer.
  4. Behrman, Jere R., 1993. "Intrahousehold distribution and the family," Handbook of Population and Family Economics,in: M. R. Rosenzweig & Stark, O. (ed.), Handbook of Population and Family Economics, edition 1, volume 1, chapter 4, pages 125-187 Elsevier.
  5. Nord, Mark, 2005. "Measuring U.S. Household Food Security," Amber Waves, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service, April.
  6. Hanan G. Jacoby, 2002. "Is There an Intrahousehold "Flypaper Effect"? Evidence From a School Feeding Programme," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 112(476), pages 196-221, January.
  7. repec:mpr:mprres:1508 is not listed on IDEAS
  8. repec:mpr:mprres:1917 is not listed on IDEAS
  9. repec:mpr:mprres:1513 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. repec:mpr:mprres:1531 is not listed on IDEAS
  11. Jay Bhattacharya & Janet Currie, 2001. "Youths at Nutrition Risk: Malnourished or Misnourished?," NBER Chapters,in: Risky Behavior among Youths: An Economic Analysis, pages 483-522 National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  12. Philip M. Gleason, "undated". "Participation in the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 1e9d5e496d6b42b38984ce808, Mathematica Policy Research.
  13. Barbara Devaney & Thomas Fraker, 1989. "The Dietary Impacts of the School Breakfast Program," American Journal of Agricultural Economics, Agricultural and Applied Economics Association, vol. 71(4), pages 932-948.
  14. Anne Gordon & Barbara L. Devaney & John Burghardt, "undated". "Dietary Effects of the National School Lunch Program and the School Breakfast Program," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 0ef69f1c7c6a4b3eac82650c5, Mathematica Policy Research.
  15. Barbara L. Devaney & Elizabeth A. Stuart, 1998. "Eating Breakfast: Effects of the School Breakfast Program," Mathematica Policy Research Reports d6ccf0f21e6b4d8a8e9cfa650, Mathematica Policy Research.
  16. John Burghardt & Barbara L. Devaney & Anne Gordon, "undated". "The School Nutrition Dietary Assessment Study: Summary and Discussion," Mathematica Policy Research Reports 729306c8cd1e4a28b52d42f6f, Mathematica Policy Research.
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