Skip to content

Journal Article

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

Authors

Publication date

Apr 2022

Summary

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.

Published in

Journal of Public Economics Plus

Volume

3:100016

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pubecp.2022.100016

ISSN

16

Subjects

Education, Child Development, Public Policy, and Health

Notes

Open Access; Under a Creative Commons license


Related publications

  1. Going universal - the impact of free school lunches on child body weight outcomes

    Angus Holford and Birgitta Rabe

    1. Education
    2. Child Development
    3. Public Policy
    4. Health

#547287


Research home

Research home

News

Latest findings, new research

Publications search

Search all research by subject and author

Podcasts

Researchers discuss their findings and what they mean for society

Projects

Background and context, methods and data, aims and outputs

Events

Conferences, seminars and workshops

Survey methodology

Specialist research, practice and study

Taking the long view

ISER's annual report

Themes

Key research themes and areas of interest