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Eating More but Not Better at School? Impacts of Boarding on Students’ Dietary Structure and Nutritional Status in Rural Northwestern China

Qihui Chen (), Chunchen Pei () and Qiran Zhao ()
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Chunchen Pei: College of Economics and Management, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100083, China
Qiran Zhao: Center for Food and Health Economic Research, China Agricultural University, Beijing 100083, China

Sustainability, 2018, vol. 10, issue 8, 1-18

Abstract: While the impact of boarding on students’ development has attracted considerable attention from researchers and policy makers, rigorous analysis of students’ food consumption behavior and nutritional status has been rare. This study fills this gap by analyzing data on nearly 7600 rural primary school students from two northwestern Chinese provinces, using students’ home-to-school distance as an instrumental variable for their boarding status. Our estimation results suggest that boarding significantly reduces students’ dietary diversity, as measured by a Diet Diversity Score constructed following guidelines provided by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. While the reduced dietary diversity does not undermine students’ overall nutrition intake, as measured by their body mass index (BMI) for age, it does increase their probability of being anemic. Further investigation reveals that boarders consume significantly less protein-rich food and significantly more carbohydrate-rich food than their non-boarding counterparts.

Keywords: boarding schools; food consumption; dietary structure; primary school; rural China (search for similar items in EconPapers)
JEL-codes: Q Q0 Q2 Q3 Q5 Q56 O13 (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2018
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