A new study has found that kids choose more vegetables in the lunch line than when the salad bar is away from the line.
“We were surprised, not that there was a difference in amounts of fruits and vegetables that students took and consumed, but by the size of the difference that placement had on students’ choices,” said lead author Marc A. Adams of Arizona State University.
“Our study measured actual weights of food items and was not affected by students’ perceptions or memories,” he added.
The amount of fresh fruit and vegetables that was taken by 33 Phoenix area middle schools students was studied by the researchers. They determined that half the schools had salad bars in the serving line and half had the salad bar elsewhere. They measured the amount of food that was consumed and the amount that was wasted by collecting student trays. The purchased produce was weighed by the researchers as the food was purchased.
Over 98 percent of students at schools with salad bars in the lunch line self-served some fruit or vegetables, compared to 23 percent of kids in other schools.
The students with in line salad bars also consumed more than four times more fruit and vegetables than other students overall, and threw more away. The study was reported in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.