Expanding Exposure: Can Increasing the Daily Duration of Head Start Reduce Childhood Obesity?
Julie C. Lumeng
Coinciding with the work requirements of welfare reform in the mid-1990s, the early childhood education program, Head Start, increased the availability of full-day classes. Using unique administrative data, we examine the effect of full-day compared to half-day attendance on childhood obesity. This effect is identified using the elimination of a state-provided full-day expansion grant that led to an exogenous decrease in the supply of full-day classes for the program in our study. Our results suggest that full-day Head Start attendance significantly reduces the proportion of obese children at the end of the academic year.
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