Head Start and children's nutrition, weight, and health care receipt

Rae Hyuck Lee, Fuhua Zhai, Wen Jui Han, Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, Jane Waldfogel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Using a sample of low-income children from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort (N ≈ 4350) and propensity-score weighted regressions, we analyzed children's nutrition, weight, and health care receipt at kindergarten entry, comparing (1) Head Start participants and all non-participants, and (2) Head Start participants and children in prekindergarten, other center-based care, other non-parental care, or only parental care. Overall, we found that compared to all non-participants, Head Start participants were more likely to receive dental checkups but showed no differences in getting medical checkups; they were also more likely to have healthy eating patterns but showed no differences in Body Mass Index (BMI), overweight, or obesity. However, these results varied depending on the comparison group—Head Start participants showed lower BMI scores and lower probability of overweight compared to those in other non-parental care, and the effects on healthy eating and dental checkups differed by comparison group.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)723-733
Number of pages11
JournalEarly Childhood Research Quarterly
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2013


  • ECLS-B
  • Head Start
  • Health care receipt
  • Nutrition
  • Weight

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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