Packed Lunches and More Physical Education Linked to Lower Childhood Overweight and Obesity

Study examines link between school environment and healthy weights

September 13, 2005 – Children who purchased lunch at school were 39% more likely to be overweight or obese than students who brought lunch from home, according to a new study funded by the Canadian Institute for Health Information. The study, published today in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, also reveals that children attending schools with infrequent physical education (less than twice a week) were more likely to be overweight or obese than children who participated in physical education classes two or more times a week.

Other key findings of the new study:

  • Children who regularly ate supper with their families (at least three or more times per week) were less likely to be overweight or obese.
  • Children whose parents had higher levels of education were less likely to be overweight or obese.
  • Children living in disadvantaged neighbourhoods were twice as likely to be obese as their peers in wealthier neighbourhoods.

Prevalence of and Risk Factors for Childhood Overweight and Obesity by Dr. Paul Veugelers is available on the Canadian Medical Association Journal Web site at

Canadian Institute for Health Information

The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) is an independent, pan-Canadian, not-for-profit organization working to improve the health of Canadians and the health care system by providing quality health information. CIHI’s mandate, as established by Canada’s health ministers, is to coordinate the development and maintenance of a common approach to health information for Canada. To this end, CIHI is responsible for providing accurate and timely information that is needed to establish sound health policies, manage the Canadian health system effectively and create public awareness of factors affecting good health. For more information, visit