Kids Who Have Longer Lunch Periods Eat Healthier Meals

Juliana F. W. Cohen, ScD, ScM Harvard T. H Chan School of Public Health Department of Health Sciences, Merrimack College North Andover, MAMedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Juliana F. W. Cohen, ScD, ScM
Harvard T. H Chan School of Public Health
Assistant Professor Department of Health Sciences
School of Science and Engineering
Department of Health Sciences, Merrimack College
North Andover, MA 

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Cohen:  There is a substantial amount of variation in the amount of time students have to eat lunch because there are no national standards for lunch period lengths. This study found that when students had less than 20 minutes of seated time in the cafeteria, they were less likely to select a fruit and consumed significantly less of their entrees, milk and vegetables compared with students who had at least 25 minutes to eat their lunch.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Cohen:  Advocating for longer lunch periods for children in schools is important to help address this issue.  However, not all schools will be able to extend the length of the lunch periods. Therefore, pushing for schools to implement strategies to get kids through the lunch line faster, such as more lunch lines and automated point of sales systems, may help.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Cohen:  Future studies should also examine the role of students’ taste preferences for the foods offered as this likely impacts selection and consumption.

Citation:

Amount of Time to Eat Lunch Is Associated with Children’s Selection and Consumption of School Meal Entrée, Fruits, Vegetables, and Milk

Cohen, Juliana F.W. et al. Published Online: September 11, 2015

Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jand.2015.07.019

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Juliana F. W. Cohen, ScD, ScM (2015). Kids Who Have Longer Lunch Periods Eat Healthier Meals