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Want Kids to Eat More Fruits and Veggies? Make Recess Before Lunch

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To Increase Fruit and Veggie Consumption, Make Recess Before Lunch (1)

Photograph by another sergio on Flickr

A new study has shown a simple, no-cost trick to increasing fruit and vegetable consumption by as much as 54%—switching recess to before lunch in elementary schools.

To Increase Fruit and Veggie Consumption, Make Recess Before Lunch (3)

Photograph by USDA on Flickr

Joseph Price, an economics professor at Brigham Young University, collaborated with Corenell’s David Just for the recently published paper in Preventive Medicine:

“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, September 19 through November 11, 2011). All of the schools were in Orem, Utah. Data was collected for all students receiving a school lunch and was based on observational plate waste data. [source]

To Increase Fruit and Veggie Consumption, Make Recess Before Lunch (2)

Photograph by USDA on Flickr

“Recess is a pretty big deal for most kids. If you have kids choose between playing and eating their veggies, the time spent playing is going to win most of the time”
– Joseph Price, BYU

After analyzing 22,939 data points, the researchers concluded that in the schools that switched recess to before lunch children ate 54% more fruits and vegetables. There was also a 45% increase in those eating at least one serving of fruits and vegetables. During the same time period consumption of fruits and vegetables actually decreased in the schools that didn’t switch.

For more information see the Brigham Young news release here. The full research report can be purchased through ScienceDirect here.