Home-schooled children are thinner, leaner, and report better diets relative to traditionally schooled children


  • Funding agencies: This research was supported by National Institutes of Health grants RO1DK067426, R01DK51684, R01DK49779, National Institutes of Health CA47888 Cancer Prevention and Control Training Program, National Institutes of Health CA3R25CA047888 CURE supplement Cancer Prevention and Control Training Program, and National Institutes of Health NIDDK T32 DK007658-21; General Clinical Research Center grant M01RR000032 from the National Center for Research Resources; and Nutrition Obesity Research Center grant P30DK56336.

  • Disclosure: The authors declared no conflict of interest.

  • Author contributions: MC, AW, ADK, KC, JF collected the data, whereas MC, AW, JF developed the study concept and design. MC, AW, ADK, KC, AC, TG, SJ, JP, JH, DA, JF played a role in the statistical analysis and/or interpretation of the data. All authors were involved in writing the article and had final approval of the submitted and published version.



To examine and compare the relationships among diet, physical activity, and adiposity between home-schooled children (HSC) and traditionally schooled children (TSC).

Design and Methods

Subjects were HSC (n = 47) and TSC (n = 48) aged 7-12 years old. Dietary intakes were determined via two 24-h recalls and physical activity was assessed with 7 days of accelerometry. Fat mass (FM), trunk fat, and percent body fat (%BF) were measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA).


Relative to HSC, TSC demonstrated significantly higher BMI percentiles, FM, trunk fat, and %BF; consumed 120 total kilocalories more per day; and reported increased intakes of trans fats, total sugar, added sugars, calcium, and lower intakes of fiber, fruits, and vegetables (P < 0.05). At lunch, TSC consumed significantly more calories, sugar, sodium, potassium, and calcium compared to HSC (P < 0.05). Physical activity did not differ between groups. Traditional schooling was associated with increased consumption of trans fat, sugar, calcium (P < 0.05); lower intakes of fiber, and fruits and vegetables (P < 0.05); and higher FM, %BF, and trunk fat (P < 0.01), after adjustment for covariates.


These data suggest HSC may consume diets that differ in energy and nutrient density relative to TSC, potentially contributing to differences in weight and adiposity.