A new study has revealed that school kids in the US leave fruits and vegetables on their food trays and throw them away.
Back in 2012, new federal guidelines required schools to add more fruits and vegetables to their lunches in order to make them healthier for kids. They were generally praised by parents and school officials, however responsible parties forgot to take one small yet critical step – brand these products to their target audience.
As one might expect, simply giving school kids the option of eating healthier foods does not necessarily make them do so. Part of the reason is that no one tried to adjust their perception of fresh fruits and vegetables, and part of the reason is that many kids (and adults) admit to not loving their taste.
It should be interesting to see what’s going to happen next as the finding surfaced just one month before Congress has to decide on whether or not they want to reauthorize the program.
It’s only been a handful of years since the new federal guidelines went into effect, but the new study has shown that school kids didn’t even embrace the requirement in the short run. They agree to put more fruits and vegetables on their food trays, however they refuse to eat them.
In fact, the researchers say that school kids eat even less fresh fruits and vegetables than they used to. The amount of food that they are currently wasting increased by 56 percent (56%) since the new federal guidelines went into effect.
To reach these conclusions, a group of researchers from the University of Vermont placed digital cameras in schools and captured images of the food on the kids’ lunch trays when they headed towards a table to eat, as well as images of the food on the kids’ lunch trays when they headed towards the food disposal area.
Sarah Amin, study lead author, offered a statement to CBS News explaining that she and her colleagues saw the study “as a great opportunity to access the policy change and ask a really important question”.
That question was whether simply telling school kids to add more fruits and vegetables to their diet, “under the updated national school lunch program guidelines that”, did indeed correspond with an increase in fruit and vegetable consumption. They got their answer – a clear “no”.
But the findings are debatable as a slightly older study conducted last year by the Harvard School of Public Health has concluded quite the opposite. The earlier study found that school kids started eating more fruits and vegetables since the new federal guidelines went into effect.
This has made Amin theorize that neither case can be generalized across the country. She said that “There might be different patterns depending on different sociodemographic characteristics”.
Amin and her colleagues also offered schools some advice on how to make fruits and vegetables more appealing to kids. Young people often consume more fresh foods if they are served in slices or cubes (rather than whole). They also find them more enticing if they are accompanied by dips or incorporated into actual meals.
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