According to a recent Harvard study, lunch periods are too short for the kids to eat their meals. Thus, fining a way to make these longer is absolutely crucial.
“Many children, especially those from low-income families, rely on school meals for up to half their daily energy intake, so it is essential that we give students a sufficient amount of time to eat their lunches” said Juliana Cohen, assistant professor at Harvard Chan School’s Department of Nutrition and lead author of the study.
She also pointed out that the National School Lunch Program manages to feed as many as 30 million school students every single day and that allowing them the proper amount of time to actually eat their meals is a crucial issue that should be dealt with as soon as possible, because it could make all the difference for the children.
You might think that a 20 or a 25 minute break allow almost the same amount of time for eating lunch, but the Harvard study has revealed that even 5 minutes can make all the difference for the kids.
The study was conducted on 1,000 school students from six different elementary and middle schools from Massachusetts. The schools that were chosen to participate were all from low-income areas of the state.
The lunch period in these institutions was between 20 and 30 minutes, which actually leaves the kids to 10 to 15 minutes to actually eat their lunch after they have washed their hands and stood in line to get their meals. The researchers pointed out that this is clearly an insufficient amount of time to eat all the items included in the meals.
In fact, their research revealed that on a 20 minute lunch break, the kids are able to eat 13% less of the entrees in their meals, 10% less of the provided milk and 12% less of the vegetables than the kids who got a 25 minute break.
With no time to eat the actual meal, very few students find the time to eat a piece a fruit for lunch. The study showed that 44% of those who get a 20 minute lunch break get fruit, and 57% of those who have 25 minutes.
Rushing to eat lunch means eating in a stressing environment and this could affect the entire digestion process. Furthermore, since this is a daily occurrence, it might prove to have long term consequences on the children.
While providing more time for the kids to have lunch is clearly a bureaucratic and scheduling nightmare for those running the schools, it seems that managing to do so would be extremely beneficial for the children.
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