NOTICE: We are experiencing technical issues with Academy members trying to log into the JAND site using Academy member login credentials. We are working to resolve the issue as soon as possible. Alternatively, if you are an Academy member, you can access the JAND site by registering for an Elsevier account and claiming access using the links at the top of the JAND site. Email us at [email protected] for assistance. Thanks for your patience!

School Breakfast Receipt and Obesity among American Fifth- and Eighth-Graders

Published:October 14, 2015DOI:



      School breakfast consumption can improve children’s nutrition, but the implications of breakfast at school for children’s weight remains unclear.


      The aim of this study was to determine whether receiving breakfast at school is related to changes in children’s weight between the fifth and eighth grades, and whether the relationship between school breakfasts and obesity varies for children of different socioeconomic backgrounds.


      This was a longitudinal study of children observed in the fifth and eighth grades.


      Data are from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Kindergarten Class of 1998-99, a nationally representative prospective cohort of children in the United States. The analytic sample consisted of 6,495 children interviewed in the fifth and eighth grades.

      Main outcome measure

      Standard thresholds from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were used to classify children as not obese or obese based on direct-measured height and weight.

      Statistical analyses performed

      Difference-in-difference propensity score matching and fixed-effect logistic regression models were used to estimate the relationship between receipt of school breakfast and change in obesity between the fifth and eighth grades, adjusting for child, household, and school characteristics.


      School breakfast receipt was not associated with a change in obesity status between the fifth and eighth grades for children overall (odds ratio=1.31; P=0.129). In the propensity score model, receiving school breakfasts more than doubled the odds of becoming obese (odds ratio=2.31; P=0.0108) for children from families below the federal poverty line compared with children of similar socioeconomic backgrounds who did not regularly receive school breakfasts.


      School breakfast receipt was not independently related to obesity for most children. Receiving school breakfasts in the fifth grade may be associated with weight gain between the fifth and eighth grades for children from families below the federal poverty line compared with children of similar socioeconomic status who did not receive breakfasts.


      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'


      Subscribe to Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


        • Benjamin R.M.
        The surgeon general's vision for a healthy and fit nation.
        Public Health Rep. 2010; 125: 514
        • Freedman D.S.
        • Khan L.K.
        • Serdula M.K.
        • Dietz W.H.
        • Srinivasan S.R.
        • Berenson G.S.
        The relation of childhood BMI to adult adiposity: The Bogalusa Heart Study.
        Pediatrics. 2005; 115: 22-27
        • Ogden C.L.
        • Carroll M.D.
        • Kit B.K.
        • Flegal K.M.
        Prevalence of childhood and adult obesity in the United States, 2011-2012.
        JAMA. 2014; 311: 806-814
        • Crosnoe R.
        • Muller C.
        Body mass index, academic achievement, and school context: Examining the educational experiences of adolescents at risk of obesity.
        J Health Soc Behav. 2004; 45: 393-407
        • Briefel R.R.
        • Wilson A.
        • Gleason P.M.
        Consumption of low-nutrient, energy-dense foods and beverages at school, home, and other locations among school lunch participants and nonparticipants.
        J Am Diet Assoc. 2009; 109: S79-S90
        • Gostin L.O.
        Law as a tool to facilitate healthier lifestyles and prevent obesity.
        JAMA. 2007; 297: 87-90
        • Bhattacharya J.
        • Currie J.
        • Haider S.J.
        Breakfast of champions? The School Breakfast Program and the nutrition of children and families.
        J Human Res. 2006; 41: 445-466
        • Dubois L.
        • Girard M.
        • Potvin Kent M.
        • Farmer A.
        • Tatone-Tokuda F.
        Breakfast skipping is associated with differences in meal patterns, macronutrient intakes and overweight among pre-school children.
        Public Health Nutr. 2009; 12: 19-28
        • Dubois L.
        • Girard M.
        • Potvin Kent M.
        Breakfast eating and overweight in a pre-school population: Is there a link?.
        Public Health Nutr. 2006; 9: 436-442
        • Haerens L.
        • Vereecken C.
        • Maes L.
        • De Bourdeaudhuij I.
        Relationship of physical activity and dietary habits with body mass index in the transition from childhood to adolescence: A 4-year longitudinal study.
        Public Health Nutr. 2010; 13: 1722-1728
        • Timlin M.T.
        • Pereira M.A.
        • Story M.
        • Neumark-Sztainer D.
        Breakfast eating and weight change in a 5-year prospective analysis of adolescents: Project EAT (Eating Among Teens).
        Pediatrics. 2008; 121: e638-e645
        • Pearson N.
        • Biddle S.J.
        • Gorely T.
        Family correlates of breakfast consumption among children and adolescents. A systematic review.
        Appetite. 2009; 52: 1-7
        • Frisvold D.E.
        Nutrition and cognitive achievement: An evaluation of the School Breakfast Program.
        J Public Econ. 2015; 124: 91-104
        • Gleason P.M.
        • Dodd A.H.
        School breakfast program but not school lunch program participation is associated with lower body mass index.
        J Am Diet Assoc. 2009; 109: S118-S128
        • Millimet D.L.
        • Tchernis R.
        • Husain M.
        School nutrition programs and the incidence of childhood obesity.
        J Human Res. 2010; 45: 640-654
        • Bassett R.
        • Chapman G.E.
        • Beagan B.L.
        Autonomy and control: The co-construction of adolescent food choice.
        Appetite. 2008; 50: 325-332
        • Videon T.M.
        • Manning C.K.
        Influences on adolescent eating patterns: The importance of family meals.
        J Adolesc Health. 2003; 32: 365-373
        • US Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics
        ECLS-K Longitudinal Kindergarten-Fifth Grade Public-Use Data File and Electronic Codebook.
        ([CD-ROM]) US Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Washington, DC2006
        • Tourangeau K.
        • Nord C.
        • Lê T.
        • Pollack J.M.
        • Atkins-Burnett S.
        ECLS-K: Combined User’s Manual for the ECLS-K Fifth-Grade Data Files and Electronic Codebooks (NCES 2006-032).
        National Center for Education Statistics, Washington, DC2006
        • Vidmar S.
        • Caelin J.
        • Hesketh K.
        • Cole T.J.
        Standardizing anthropometric measures in children and adolescents with new functions for egen.
        Stata J. 2004; 4: 50-55
        • Schanzenbach D.W.
        Do school lunches contribute to childhood obesity?.
        J Human Res. 2009; 44: 684-709
        • Johnson-Taylor W.L.
        • Everhart J.E.
        Modifiable environmental and behavioral determinants of overweight among children and adolescents: Report of a workshop.
        Obesity. 2006; 14: 929-966
        • Gallagher D.
        • Visser M.
        • Sepulveda D.
        • Pierson R.N.
        • Harris T.
        • Heymsfield S.B.
        How useful is body mass index for comparison of body fatness across age, sex, and ethnic groups?.
        Am J Epidemiol. 1996; 143: 228-239
        • Must A.
        • Dallal G.E.
        • Dietz W.H.
        Reference data for obesity: 85th and 95th percentiles of body mass index (wt/ht2) and triceps skinfold thickness.
        Am J Clin Nutr. 1991; 53: 839-846


      N. Sudharsanan is a PhD candidate in Demography, Population Studies Center, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.


      At the time of the study, S. Romano was an MPH candidate in Global Health, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, GA.


      S. A. Cunningham is an assistant professor, Hubert Department of Global Health, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, Atlanta, GA.