The Effect of Breakfast in the Classroom on Obesity and Academic Performance: Evidence from New York City

Sean P. Corcoran, Brian Elbel, Amy Ellen Schwartz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Participation in the federally subsidized school breakfast program often falls well below its lunchtime counterpart. To increase take-up, many districts have implemented Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC), offering breakfast directly to students at the start of the school day. Beyond increasing participation, advocates claim BIC improves academic performance, attendance, and engagement. Others caution BIC has deleterious effects on child weight. We use the implementation of BIC in New York City (NYC) to estimate its impact on meals program participation, body mass index (BMI), achievement, and attendance. While we find large effects on participation, our findings provide no evidence of hoped-for gains in academic performance, or of feared increases in obesity. The policy case for BIC will depend upon reductions in hunger and food insecurity for disadvantaged children, or its longer-term effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of Policy Analysis and Management
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2016

Fingerprint

classroom
participation
performance
evidence
nutrition situation
hunger
meals
school
Obesity
Academic performance
district
Participation
student
Attendance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Public Administration
  • Business, Management and Accounting(all)

Cite this

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title = "The Effect of Breakfast in the Classroom on Obesity and Academic Performance: Evidence from New York City",
abstract = "Participation in the federally subsidized school breakfast program often falls well below its lunchtime counterpart. To increase take-up, many districts have implemented Breakfast in the Classroom (BIC), offering breakfast directly to students at the start of the school day. Beyond increasing participation, advocates claim BIC improves academic performance, attendance, and engagement. Others caution BIC has deleterious effects on child weight. We use the implementation of BIC in New York City (NYC) to estimate its impact on meals program participation, body mass index (BMI), achievement, and attendance. While we find large effects on participation, our findings provide no evidence of hoped-for gains in academic performance, or of feared increases in obesity. The policy case for BIC will depend upon reductions in hunger and food insecurity for disadvantaged children, or its longer-term effects.",
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