Longer Lunch Breaks Help Students Eat More, Be Healthy: Study

There are many kids for whom their school lunch turns out to be the day’s most important meal. It has been found that the little ones get 1/3-1/2 of their daily nutritional intake from their school lunch. This makes it extremely essential that kids consume a healthy school lunch on a regular basis.

A new study, however, is suggesting that, students who get less than 20 minutes to eat their school lunches get to consume significantly less portions of their entrées, vegetables and milk compared to the ones who don’t get rushed.

This new study has been carried out by researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and was published on Friday in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics.

These days, the majority of the kids have the option of buying lunch at school or bringing it packed from home. Both options are equally useful when it comes to providing the kids with a healthy lunch. However, experts are saying that some foods and meals served at school cafeterias have been found to be more nutritional than others.

Harvard Chan School’s Eric Rimm, who is a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at the institute and a senior author of the study, each school-day sees the National School Lunch Program helping to feed more than 30 million kids in as many as 100,000 schools in different parts of the United States. However, Prof. Rimm has admitted that in spite of having such a widespread lunch service, very few studies have focused on this field.

It’s true that recent federal guidelines improved the nutritional quality of lunches served at schools; however, still there are no standards set for the length of the lunch break. A large share of students gets 20 minutes or even less than that to eat, which might not be enough for finishing their lunches.

During the study, researchers observed 1,001 students representing six different middle and elementary schools whose lunch period ranged from 20 to 30 minutes. All the schools taking part in the study are located in a low-income urban school district in the state of Massachusetts.

The observation revealed that students who got less than 20 minutes for consuming their school lunch consumed 10% less milk, 12% less vegetables and 13% less entrées compared to the ones who got at least 25 minutes for eating.