Thursday, January 22, 2015

Scheduling lunch after recess may lead to less food waste and better nutrition, study says

According to a new study conducted at seven schools in Utah, scheduling school lunch later in the day could help children to eat more nutritious foods and reduce food waste. Researchers found that children threw away more food when they ate lunch before recess instead of afterward. Much of the food they threw away was fruits and vegetables, Roberto A. Ferdman writes for The Washington Post.

Cornell and Brigham Young University researchers spent 14 days studying the behavior of school children during lunch at the seven schools. Three of the schools served lunch after recess, and the other four severed it before recess. The researchers kept track of how many fruits and vegetables children discarded and how many they ate.

"Students who ate lunch after recess ate 54 percent more fruits and vegetables than those who ate it before," Ferdman reports. The number of students who ate at least one serving of fruit and vegetables was 45 percent greater at the schools that served lunch after recess than the schools who served it beforehand. This is because students are hungrier for lunch after playing, and if they have already had recess, they will not rush eating their lunch so they can go play.

"If recess is held before lunch, students come to lunch with healthy appetites and less urgency and are more likely to eat their fruits and vegetables," David Just, one of the study's authors, said in a statement, Ferdman writes.

A 2014 study also concluded that providing lunch before recess led to more food waste for about the same reasons. It is unknown how many schools currently serve lunch before recess, but in 2011, only 4.6 percent of elementary schools reported serving lunch after recess. (Read more)

No comments: