Anyone who has, or spends a lot of time around, children knows that it can be very difficult at times to get them to clear the produce on their plates. In fact, NPR’s “The Salt” reports that kids throw away between 24 and 35 percent of their school lunch trays.
How to get kids to eat more of their fruits and veggies – so that these items end up in their stomachs, and not in the trash – has been a hot topic for years. Now, researchers think they may have an answer that will help a lot: moving recess to before lunch.
In a new study published in the journal Preventive Medicine, researchers found that making this simple switch – the time of recess – led to students eating 54 percent more of their fruits and vegetables. That’s a big improvement.
On their experiment, the study authors wrote:
“Participants were 1st–6th grade students from three schools that switched recess from after to before lunch and four similar schools that continued to hold recess after lunch. We collected data for an average of 14 days at each school… All of the schools were in Orem, UT. Data was collected for all students receiving a school lunch and was based on observational plate waste data.”
Along with students eating 54 percent more fruits and veggies after recess, the number of students who ate at least one serving rose by 10 percent. The researchers hypothesize that having recess first may make kids hungrier, and that kids may take their time eating after recess, as they’re not in a rush to run outside.
While it may be difficult for some schools to make the recess time change, due to scheduling issues and crowding, the researchers hope that those that can, will.
On a side note, the concept explored in this study might work at home, too. If you’re having a hard time getting your kids to eat their fruits and veggies, try going outside to run and play with them first, to work up an appetite.
Also, cooking yummy fruit and vegetable dishes at home, and then packing them in your child’s brown bag lunch, is likely way healthier – and way more delicious – than anything they’ll find on the lunch line.
-The Alternative Daily