PI: Michael Thomsen, University of Arkansas
Project description: Breakfast in the classroom (BIC) has been shown to meaningfully increase participation in the School Breakfast Program and reduce the number of schoolchildren who skip breakfast entirely. There is evidence that regular breakfast consumption positively impacts academic achievement and may be protective against excess weight gain. Thus, BIC may be an effective strategy to positively impact the lives of US schoolchildren. Existing studies on the effects of BIC are few in number and focus on children from large, urban centers. One concern is whether findings from these areas generalize to children in other parts of the country. To better understand the impact of BIC in reducing persistent disparities in academic performance and childhood obesity, we take advantage of the nation’s longest-running and most comprehensive statewide BMI screening program of public schoolchildren. These data reflect the population of Arkansas schoolchildren over a 16-year period. They will be linked to academic achievement outcomes and analyzed using strong quasi-experimental methods that include difference in differences estimation, matching, and synthetic controls. The study provides a novel opportunity fill a crucial knowledge gap by investigating the impact of BIC in less-urban contexts not adequately covered in earlier studies.