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National School Lunch Program Participation and Child Body Weight

Mirtcheva DM and Powell LM. Eastern Economic Journal, 2013, 39, 328–345.

This paper examines the relationship between National School Lunch Program (NSLP) participation and body weight using longitudinal data for public school children in grades 1–12. NSLP participation is associated with higher body weight among girls, but not boys. Quantile regression results show higher body mass index percentile for girls between the 25th–90th quantiles (whereas associations occur at the 75th–85th quantiles for boys and are smaller in magnitude compared to girls. Accounting for time-invariant unobserved heterogeneity, individual-level fixed effects models found no significant effect of NSLP participation for the full sample or by gender, suggesting that the associations are not causal.

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