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Longer lunch times may improve student nutrition, study says

The study showed that elementary and middle school students consumed significantly more fruits and vegetables if given a 20-minute seated lunch period.
A group of students eating in the cafeteria.
Photograph: Shutterstock

Longer lunch times may improve kids nutrition, according to a new study published in the medical journal JAMA.

The study analyzed whether a 20-minute seated lunch period improved student nutrition and decreased food waste compared to a 10-minute lunch period. 

For the study, 38 elementary and middle school students were given a lunch that met National School Lunch Program standards during a summer camp at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Five different menus were served throughout the study, and a 20-minute or 10-minute seated lunch was randomly assigned each day.

The survey found that while the children consumed significantly less fruits and vegetables during the shorter lunch than the longer one, entree and beverage consumption remained the same for both.

During the 20-minute lunch, the kids also consumed significantly more and wasted significantly less calories, carbohydratesdietary fiber, protein and potassium.

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