The push for healthier school lunches means more fruits and veggies on our children’s trays, but whether or not they’re eating the healthier options is still up for debate. A new study reveals that although most of our kids choose a vegetable option in the lunch line, many of them don’t even take a bite before tossing it in the trash.
Today reports about the study and what steps experts believe can be taken to get kids to eat their veggies. The Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health study looked at 274 New York City students from grades kindergarten through second grade. What researchers found was that 7 out of 10 students will choose a vegetable for their tray, but only about half of these kids even took one bite of it.
Healthy eating and nutrition are an integral part of being able to learn and focus well in school. Lead author of the study Susan Gross explains why we should place a greater amount of importance on healthy eating at school. She says, “There are plenty of studies out there showing how important good nutrition is to learning, so if we want our children to be ready to learn, then the cafeteria environment is incredibly important.”
But how can we get our kids to eat their veggies at school? Researchers found that when kids were eating their lunch in a quieter place they tended to eat a lot more of the healthier items. Gross explains, “I was surprised by how much of an impact environmental factors had on healthy eating.” Some other aspects that assured the kids would eat vegetable was having their teacher eat with them, having an extended lunch period and having their food cut up for them. Gross explains how many first-graders are dealing with loose and lost teeth, making the simple act of eating an entire apple a difficult task.
What do you think of the new study that finds many kids are not eating their veggies at school?
Do you think changes to their cafeteria environment, like reduced noise and an extended lunch period, would help them eat healthier?