Having recess before lunch increases fruit and vegetable consumption!
Don’t you just love it when researchers study— and then discover—the obvious?
Hmmm…let’s see…requiring kids to take a fruit or a vegetable doesn’t increase consumption, but making sure kids are extra hungry before lunch does.
When lunch is scheduled before recess, kids are encouraged to minimize eating time. And that usually means cutting out the fruits and vegetables.
This is especially true for kids who value playing and running around.
Two takeaways for feeding kids at home:
- Structural changes can have a big effect. For instance, sometimes feeding children dinner at 4:30 solves all the evening eating/meltdown/control struggle problems. (Still want a family dinner experience? Let kids eat their dinner early, so that you’re not fighting about snacks and then let your children eat dessert when the adults eat.)
- Often parents inadvertently create an incentive for children to do the opposite of what we would like them to do. One example that comes to mind is the strategy of providing an appealing after-dinner snack that kids really like. This encourages some children to skip (or minimize eating) at dinner. After-dinner/before-bed snacks should be acceptable but not preferred.
Moving recess to before lunch increased the number of fruit and vegetable servings by 65% in one study.
It also increased the percentage of children eating fruits and vegeatbles by 69%
Other benefits schools have reaped from moving recess to before lunch:
- More food being eaten overall (decreasing, presumably, excessive afternoon hunger that often leads to poor academic performance and unhealthy snacking).
- Less wasted food.
- Calmer lunchroom atmosphere.
- Decrease in disciplinary problems.
And remember, changing the timing of recess is free.
As are the structural changes you can make at home!
~Changing the conversation from nutrition to habits.~
Source: Price, J. and D. R. Just. 2015. “Lunch, Recess and Nutrition: Responding to Time Incentives in the Cafeteria.” Preventive Medicine 71: 27-30.