Lunch, Recess and Nutrition: Responding to Time Incentives in the Cafeteria
14 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2014
Date Written: December 9, 2014
Objectives: In this study, we evaluate if moving recess before lunch has an effect on the amount of fruits and vegetables elementary school students eat as part of their school-provided lunch. Methods: 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 (4 days during spring 2011, May 3 through June 1, 2011 and 9 days during fall 2011, occurred September 19 through November 11, 2011. 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.
Results: We find that moving recess before lunch increased consumption of fruits and vegetables by 0.16 servings per child (a 54% increase) and increased the fraction of children eating at least one serving of fruits or vegetables by 10 percentage points (a 45% increase).
Conclusions: Our results show the benefits of holding recess before lunch and suggest that if more schools implement this policy, there would be significant increases in fruit and vegetable consumption among students who eat school lunch as part of the National School Lunch Program.
Keywords: Recess, lunch, fruits and vegetables, National School Lunch Program
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