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Going universal. The impact of free school lunches on child body weight outcomes

Holford, Angus and Rabe, Birgitta (2022) 'Going universal. The impact of free school lunches on child body weight outcomes.' Journal of Public Economics Plus, 3. p. 100016. ISSN 2666-5514

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We study the impact on young children’s bodyweight of switching from means-tested to universal provision of nutritious free school meals in England, exploiting identifying variation in the timing of weight measurements. We show that exposure to high quality universal free lunches increases healthy weight prevalence and reduces obesity prevalence and BMI by the end of the first year of school. The effect seems driven by substitution of home-produced lunches with school meals among children not eligible under means-testing, with little evidence of income or parental labour supply effects. This suggests universal provision can improve the diets of relatively well-off pupils.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Childhood obesity; School meals; Universalism; In-kind transfer
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences > Institute for Social and Economic Research
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 03 May 2022 13:43
Last Modified: 03 May 2022 14:19

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