Some kids and school districts have objected to the Obama administration's efforts to change lunches to be fare they prefer. The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act changes have led to worries by advocates for the poor that kids whose best meal of the day was a school lunch are now being penalized, while food waste activists see increasing piles of food in garbage cans as a worrying trend. People who prefer freedom don't like that centralized government is now controlling what local school districts feed kids.

If government wants to be a parent, they should know what parents know - if a kid gets hungry enough, they will eat. And they will get a little bit hungrier if they have recess before lunch, according to a new paper. That could mean millions of dollars of 'healthier' food being thrown away every single day at school could get consumed.

When recess takes place before kids sit down to eat instead of after, fruit and vegetable consumption increases by 54%, says Joe Price, an economics professor at Brigham Young University, lead study author of the paper in Preventive Medicine. The study done with David Just of Cornell involved seven schools in a Utah school district (grades 1-6). Half of the children in the sample qualified for free or reduced price school lunch.

Three of the schools switched recess to before lunch while four schools continued to hold recess after lunch. For four days in spring and nine days in the fall, researchers measured fruit and vegetable waste by standing next to the trash cans and recording the number of servings of fruits and vegetables that each student consumed or threw away. They also measured whether or not each student ate at least one serving of fruits or vegetables.

After analyzing 22,939 data points, the researchers concluded that in the schools that switched recess to before lunch children ate 54% more fruits and vegetables. There was also a 45% increase in those eating at least one serving of fruits and vegetables. During the same time period consumption of fruits and vegetables actually decreased in the schools that didn't switch.

Not getting a full, balanced meal can leave children feeling hungry during the rest of the school day leading to decreased academic performance and excessive snacking when they get home from school.

The researchers note that, "increased fruit and vegetable consumption in young children can have positive long term health effects. Additionally, decreasing waste of fruits and vegetables is important for schools and districts that are faced with high costs of offering healthier food choices."

Because moving recess is a no-cost way to make kids healthier and make the school meal program more successful, Price and Just recommend that every school makes the switch.

Source: Brigham Young University