Investigators: Michael Thomsen, Rodolfo M. Nayga Jr, Anthony Goudie
Institution: University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture
Breakfast consumption is associated with improved diet and may be protective against excess weight gain. Alternative breakfast delivery schedules that provide “breakfast after the bell” (BAB) could increase school breakfast participation. This project consisted of two studies focused on the impact of BAB on Arkansas elementary schoolchildren. The first study used administrative data to examine the effect of BAB on standardized test scores in mathematics and English among third graders using a “synthetic” control model. The second study used data from a legislatively mandated BMI screening program to assess the impact of BAB on weight outcomes by the second grade. There was limited evidence that BAB delivery impacts academic achievement in Arkansas with estimates of limited practical significance, but improvements in both breakfast participation and in student behavior. The second study showed no meaningful effects of BAB on weight outcomes overall and across subsamples suggest no evidence that BAB is detrimental in terms of excess weight gain. BAB can fit into the rhythm of the school day without adversely impacting academic achievement. By increasing participation in school meal programs, BAB may lead to improved diets and increased food security among at-risk children thereby contributing to better long-term health and quality of life.
Michael R. Thomsen
University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture
217 Agriculture Building
Fayetteville, AR 72701