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The New School Food Standards and Nutrition of School Children: Direct and Indirect Effect Analysis

Citation

Valizadeh, Pourya & Ng, Shu Wen (Forthxoming). The New School Food Standards and Nutrition of School Children: Direct and Indirect Effect Analysis. Economics and Human Biology.

Abstract

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act (HHFKA) of 2010 made sweeping changes to school nutritional standards. We estimate the impacts of shifts in school nutritional standards on dietary quality as well as dietary quantity of children’s food intakes from school and away-from-school food sources. We find the average effect of consuming school food, rather than away-from-school food, on children’s overall dietary quality significantly increased from the pre- to post-HHFKA implementation period. This effect was solely driven by substantial improvements in the dietary quality of foods acquired at school, mainly among older and higher-income children. Our indirect effect analysis indicated that children shifted towards consuming lower-quality diets at home in the post-HHFKA period, thereby partially offsetting the positive effects of the HHFKA on their overall dietary quality. Indirect impacts were primarily driven by a subset of children consuming more than a third of their daily calories from school food. Additionally, we find suggestive evidence of a modest decrease in daily calorie intake, particularly among older and higher-income children. Together, our findings imply that the HHFKA, despite its unintended negative indirect effects, led children to consume more-nutritious, less-energy-dense diets.

Reference Type

Journal Article

Journal Title

Economics and Human Biology

Author(s)

Valizadeh, Pourya
Ng, Shu Wen

Year Published

Forthxoming

NIHMSID

NIHMS1615278

Reference ID

12801