Childhood Misnourishment, School Meal Programs and Academic Performance
Capogrossi, Kristen Lynn
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Both types of childhood misnourishment, overweight/obesity and underweight, are accompanied by serious health consequences and a heavy economic burden. In 2008, 19.6% of US children aged 6 to 11 and 18.1% of adolescents aged 12 to 19 were obese equating to 13 million children. Furthermore, in 2006, 2.7% of US children aged 6 to 11 and 3.9% of adolescents aged 12 to 19 were underweight translating to 2.4 million children. This dissertation contains three essays on the relationship between child weight, school meal program participation and academic performance. Chapter II examines how childrensâ weight impacts their academic performance using a quantile analysis while controlling for potential simultaneity between weight and school outcomes. Results indicate that programs targeting child weight could potentially have positive spillover effects on academic performance leading to the question of what can be done to mitigate the problem. Since children consume one-third to one-half of their daily calories while in school each day, school level programs are natural policy instruments to tackle misnourishment. Specifically, the School Breakfast Program (SBP) and National School Lunch Program (NSLP) are two federally-funded programs providing meals to over 31.7 million children daily. Chapter III examines the impact that these programs have on child weight using a multiple simultaneous treatment analysis controlling for self-selection into the programs. Chapter IV then investigates whether these programs have spillover effects on academic performance through the mediator of child weight using structural equation modeling and multiple simultaneous equation methodologies. Each of these essays provides further insight to the relationship between child weight, school meal program participation and academic performance offering potential policy implications to tackle child misnourishment.
- Doctoral Dissertations