New study examines link between child care subsidies and childhood obesity

ASU's Chris Herbst, along with Erdal Tekin of Georgia State University, find that children receiving subsidized care have higher BMIs and are more likely to be overweight and obese than children who did not receive a subsidy. Photo by: stock.xchng photo

(Medical Xpress) -- A new study published in the Journal of Urban Economics by ASU's Chris Herbst, along with Erdal Tekin of Georgia State University, focuses on analyzing the impact of subsidized child care on disadvantaged children's weight outcomes.

The authors use the kindergarten cohort of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, a nationally representative survey of kindergartners funded by the U.S. Department of Education, to assess whether receiving a government-provided subsidy in the year before kindergarten have rates of overweight and obesity at kindergarten entry that are different from comparable children who did not receive assistance. 



Studying children of single (unmarried) mothers, Herbst and Tekin find that children receiving subsidized care have higher BMIs and are more likely to be overweight and obese than children who did not receive a subsidy. The authors' results imply that the odds of being overweight or obese are about 40 percent higher if a child receives a government-provided subsidy. 

Herbst and Tekin examine childcare subsidies funded through the Child Care and Development Fund, a child care assistance program that was created in 1996 and is funded jointly by federal and state governments. This program is intended to provide low-skilled mothers with critical support to transition from welfare to work or to keep mothers off welfare in the first place. To be eligible for a subsidy, mothers must be employed, or in school or job training, and have an income below a certain threshold.

Herbst and Tekin speculate that the higher rates of are driven by two factors: the program's employment mandate and the low-quality child care that the subsidy purchases. Given that disadvantaged may feel the stress and time crunch associated with starting work, it is possible that some children consume less healthy meals and engage in fewer outdoor activities. In addition, the is not incredibly generous and may be used to purchase unregulated care, both of which raise concerns over the quality of care children are exposed to.

Related Stories

Working mums and overweight kids: is there a link?

date Nov 22, 2007

New research from the University of Bristol shows that children aged between 5 and 7, whose mothers work full time, are more likely to be overweight at age 16. The impact on their weight is not immediate; rather, children ...

Recommended for you

Noise from fireworks threatens young ears

date 17 hours ago

(HealthDay)—The Fourth of July weekend is a time for celebrations and beautiful fireworks displays. But, parents do need to take steps to protect their children's ears from loud fireworks, a hearing expert ...

Many new teen drivers 'crash' in simulated driving task

date 17 hours ago

(HealthDay)—Around four in 10 newly licensed teen drivers "crashed" in a simulated driving test, suggesting that many adolescents lack the skills they need to stay safe on the road, according to a new study.

Insurer Aetna to buy Humana in $35B deal

date 19 hours ago

Aetna will spend about $35 billion to buy rival Humana and become the latest health insurer bulking up on government business as the industry adjusts to the federal health care overhaul.

Feeling impulsive or frustrated? Take a nap

date 21 hours ago

Taking a nap may be an effective strategy to counteract impulsive behavior and to boost tolerance for frustration, according to a University of Michigan study.

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.