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Health status and school achievement of children from Head Start and Free School Lunch Programs.
  • Published Date:
    1980 Jul-Aug
  • Source:
    Public Health Rep. 95(4):362-368
  • Language:
Filetype[PDF-1.73 MB]

  • Alternative Title:
    Public Health Rep
  • Description:
    School health records of 332 children through the eighth grade were examined in a retrospective comparative analysis of physical health status and school achievement of children from Head Start and Free School Lunch Programs. The objective was to determine if nutrition early in the lives of children as a part of a comprehensive health and education program such as Head Start produces greater or different benefits for disadvantaged children than nutrition intervention later through free lunches when the child enters school. Cross-sectional longitudinal, and case-study approaches were used in the analysis. A group of no-food-program disadvantaged children and a group of advantaged children served as comparisons. Results showed that advantaged children performed better on all parameters of school achievement and health status compared with the disadvantaged children, regardless of the form of intervention. Measures of school achievement of Head Start and Free Lunch children did not differ from those of the disadvantaged comparison group, but there were significant differences in measures of health status between the disadvantaged groups. Fewer boys from Project Head Start fell below the 25th percentile for height compared with boys in the Free Lunch Program. Head Start children also scored higher in physical fitness and had fewer reported absences from school due to illness.

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