Leisurely Lunch

Open wide — Here comes the airplane! 

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

Bribing, begging, bargaining…we’ve tried EVERYTHING to get our kids to eat their greens. But could it just be a matter of … TIME? 

Enter Xanna Burg and colleagues from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

They provided almost forty elementary and middle schoolers with lunch for a month. Each day, the kids had either ten or twenty minutes to eat. The scientists weighed the students’ food before and after lunch to track how much they ate.

Results? During the longer lunch period, kids ate almost fourteen percentage points more veggies. They also ate eleven percentage points more fruit! AND wasted less food.

As all parents know – kids are more likely to reach for the mac ‘n’ cheese BEFORE the veggies. Extending lunch gives them time to finish their favorites and get to the greens! Ten more minutes could give every kid a chance to join the “clean plate club!”

Huh? Wonder if that would convince my boss to extend MY lunch break??

Reference: Burg, X., Metcalfe, J. J., Ellison, B., & Prescott, M. P. (2021). Effects of Longer Seated Lunch Time on Food Consumption and Waste in Elementary and Middle School–age Children. JAMA Network Open, 4(6), e2114148. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.14148