Here’s a hack to get schoolchildren to eat more fruits and vegetables during lunch: Schedule their meal to AFTER recess.
Why does this work? For one thing, after exercise, kids are hungrier. More importantly, there is less pressure to finish eating quickly because the kids don’t rush out to play after eating; they return to class.
These findings were published in Preventive Medicine, after researchers studied the behavior of elementary school children in Utah over the course of several weeks. One group had lunch before recess, while the other had recess before lunch.
According to the researchers: “Moving recess before lunch increased consumption of fruits and vegetables by 0.16 servings per child (a 54% increase) and increased the fraction of children eating at least one serving of fruits or vegetables by 10 percentage points (a 45% increase).”
This makes a lot of sense. Kids (and some grownups) prioritize eating based on favorites.