A new study from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health has found that short lunch periods affect students’ nutrition. Those who have less than 20 minutes to eat are consuming significantly less amounts of their entrees, milk and vegetables than those students who have more time.
The study was published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
“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 lead author of the study Juliana Cohen. She is adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Nutrition at Harvard Chan School and assistant professor in the Department of Health Sciences at Merrimack College.
Federal guidelines have focused on the nutritional quality of school lunches, but have not set standards regarding the length of lunch periods. “Every school day the National School Lunch Program helps to feed over 30 million children in 100,000 schools across the U.S., yet little research has been done in this field,” said senior author Eric Rimm, professor of epidemiology and nutrition at Harvard Chan School.