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Natural Awakenings Tucson

Playing Outside Before Lunch Spurs Kids to Eat Healthier: Recess First, Cafeteria Second

Researchers from Brigham Young University and Cornell University have determined that simply moving recess to precede lunch significantly increases students’ consumption of fruits and vegetables at lunch.

The researchers tested firstthrough sixth-graders from seven schools in Utah for 14 school days. In three schools, recess was switched from after to just before lunch. In the other four schools, recess still followed lunch.

Published in the journal Preventative Medicine, research found that when recess was just prior to lunch, students ate 54 percent more fruits and vegetables. Moving recess also resulted in 45 percent more kids eating at least one serving of fruits and vegetables during school-provided lunches.

The researchers concluded that results show the benefits of holding recess before lunch and suggest that if more schools did this, there would be significant increases in fruit and vegetable consumption, particularly among students that eat school lunch as part of the National School Lunch Program.

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