The effect of school meals on the rate of growth was assessed in two sets of children over one, two, and three-year periods in England and Scotland between 1973 and 1979. In all analyses children were subdivided into three groups: poor, not poor, and undefined, according to a set of questions on social circumstances. The rate of growth was assessed for children receiving school meals, lunches prepared at home, and those who changed scheme during the study period. No relation between rate of growth and uptake of school meals was found at any of the levels of poverty in England. In Scotland there was some indication in the poor group that children who received school meals had a smaller rate of growth than children having lunches prepared at home. There was inconclusive evidence that children from the poorer sectors of the community whose mother's worked outside the home may benefit from the school meals system. Although children selected for welfare support were smaller than other children, in so far as the design of the study allowed school meals during the 1970s did not increase the rate of growth of primary school children in any social stratum.
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