School Breakfast Participation and Obesity among American Middle School Children

Sebastian Romano, Emory University
Nikkil Sudharsanan, University of Pennsylvania
Solveig Argeseanu Cunningham, Emory University

School breakfast programs (SBPs) are established to improve child nutrition and therefore may reduce childhood obesity. However, studies on the impact of SBPs have shown mixed results, in some cases even showing positive associations with obesity. These unexpected associations may be due to the placement of programs in schools with greatest need, masking their benefits. Using the nationally representative Early Childhood Longitudinal Study Kindergarten Class of 1998/9, we examine whether SBPs promote healthy weight among children below the federal poverty line. We found that children attending a school that served breakfast were more likely to eat breakfast at school. While overall children who could or did eat school breakfast were more likely to be obese, these associations were explained by socioeconomic characteristics. School breakfast access and consumption were associated with lower obesity risks among children living in poverty, suggesting that SBPs may promote healthy weight among the poorest children.

  See paper

Presented in Session 149: Child Obesity and Food Insecurity