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J Health Econ. 2011 May;30(3):489-504. doi: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2011.02.003. Epub 2011 Mar 1.

Healthy school meals and educational outcomes.

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Nuffield College, University of Oxford, United Kingdom.


This paper provides field evidence on the effects of diet on educational outcomes, exploiting a campaign lead in the UK in 2004, which introduced drastic changes in the meals offered in the schools of one borough - Greenwich - shifting from low-budget processed meals towards healthier options. We evaluate the effect of the campaign on educational outcomes in primary schools using a difference in differences approach; comparing educational outcomes in primary schools (Key Stage 2 outcomes more specifically) before and after the reform, using the neighbouring Local Education Authorities as a control group. We find evidence that educational outcomes did improve significantly in English and Science. We also find that authorized absences - which are most likely linked to illness and health - fell by 14%.

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