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USDA-backed study finds federal school lunches linked to childhood obesity
Date:8/24/2010

With children going back to school, parents are concerned that their youngsters are staying fit and eating right, especially those who dine in a school cafeteria.

New research funded by the U.S. Department of Agriculture finds that children who eat school lunches that are part of the federal government's National School Lunch Program are more likely to become overweight.

The same research study found, however, that children who eat both the breakfast and lunch sponsored by the federal government are less heavy than children who don't participate in either, and than children who eat only the lunch, says economist Daniel L. Millimet at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

Millimet authored the study with economists Rusty Tchernis, Georgia State University, and Muna S. Hussain, Kuwait University. For a link to the journal article and to more information see http://tinyurl.com/2874wqn.

"The fact that federally funded school lunches contribute to the childhood obesity epidemic is disconcerting, although not altogether surprising," said Millimet, whose research expertise is the economics of children, specifically topics related to schooling and health.

The new study was published in the Summer issue of The Journal of Human Resources. It is titled "School Nutrition Programs and the Incidence of Childhood Obesity."

The U.S. Department of Agriculture oversees the federal lunch and breakfast programs. Through USDA the federal government reimburses schools for a portion of school lunch costs and also donates surplus agricultural food items. While USDA does require that the meals meet certain nutritional standards, schools choose the specific foods.

A la carte items outside the guidelines Schools also can serve individual food items a la carte, which fall outside the scope of the federal guidelines and allow students to choose additional foods.

For their st
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Contact: Margaret Allen
mallen@smu.edu
214-768-7664
Southern Methodist University
Source:Eurekalert

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