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Recess Then Lunch, Kids Eat More Fruits and Veggies

Recess Then Lunch, Kids Eat More Fruits and Veggies

In Disney’s 2001 animated movie Recess: School’s Out, bad-guy Secretary of Education, Phillium Benedict (voiced by James Woods) tries to ban recess nationwide. He mistakenly believes that by trapping kids in school all day test scores will skyrocket and he will become President. (Spoiler Alert: Benedict suffers humiliating defeat.)

But if “The Enemy of Recess” knew that kids will eat a lot more vegetables and fruit (research shows such improved nutrition leads to better learning and higher test scores) when recess is scheduled before lunch, would he still have attempted his all-work, no-play version of school-world domination? Hard to say -- but we’re glad to hear about this discovery made by researchers in Oren, Utah. It offers a great way to improve kids’ nutrition and to eliminate a lot of the waste that schools are complaining about now that they’re mandated to serve up healthier foods. It’s estimated that an extra $4 million in fruits and veggies are discarded daily!

The researchers found that when kids in grades one through six have recess before their midday meal they eat about 54% more fruits and vegetables than if recess comes afterwards. Seems kids are hungrier after a bit of exercise (duh!) and they rush through lunch -- skipping what they can (fruits and vegetables) -- to get outside sooner when recess follows lunch. So, let’s make recess before lunch a part of the guidelines in the National School Lunch Program and help kids grow stronger and think better during their school day.

Medically reviewed in December 2019.

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