School feeding for improving the physical and psychosocial health of disadvantaged students
Citation: Kristjansson B, Petticrew M, MacDonald B, et al. School feeding for improving the physical and psychosocial health of disadvantaged students. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews 2007; (1): CD004676
What is this: The COVID-19 pandemic is placing a strain on schools and the services they provide. Existing research on school-feeding programmes may provide information to help policy makers manage this.
In this Campbell systematic review, the authors searched for comparative effectiveness studies of the effects of school-feeding programmes on the physical and psychosocial health of disadvantaged school pupils. They did not restrict by language of publication or the country of the study, and did their searches up to May 2006. They included 9 studies from lower-income countries and 9 studies from higher-income countries.
What was found: Children in the school feeding group attended school more frequently than those in the control groups, with an average excess of 4 to 6 days a year per child.
For educational and cognitive outcomes, children in the school feeding group gained more than those in the control groups on maths achievement, and on some short-term cognitive tasks.
For weight, in lower-income countries, children in the school feeding group gained more weight than those in the control groups; but results were mixed in higher-income countries.
For height, results were mixed.
Further research is still to determine the impact of school meals for disadvantaged children and within different socio‐economic status groups.
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