We conduct a ﬁeld experiment to evaluate the extent to which dietary habits are malleable early on in childhood and later in life. We implement two treatments one that targets what people eat, the other that targets the timing and frequency of food intake. 285 low income families with young children were recruited and assigned either to a control group or one of the two treatments, each of them lasting for 12 consecutive weeks. In one treatment, families received food groceries at home for free for 12 weeks and were asked to prepare ﬁve speciﬁc healthy meals per week. In the other treatment, families were simply asked to reduce snacking and eat at regular times. We collected a range of measures of food preferences, dietary intake, as well as BMI and biomarkers based on blood samples. We ﬁnd evidence that children’s BMI distribution shifted signiﬁcantly relative to the control group, i.e. they became relatively “thinner”. We also ﬁnd some evidence that their preferences have been aﬀected by both treatments. On the other hand, we ﬁnd little evidence of eﬀects on parents. We conclude that exposure to a healthy diet and regularity of food intake possibly play a role in shaping dietary habits, but inﬂuencing dietary choices later on in life remains a major challenge.
|Name||Bath Economics Research Papers|
|Publisher||Department of Economics, University of Bath|