Can eating lunch after recess affect test scores? A recent study by Ector County Independent School District Director of School Nutrition Katy Taylor shows that there is a positive association between better academic performance and recess before lunch.
“While the study does not prove cause and effect,” Taylor said, “we need to consider that sometimes the simplest things can make a difference for our students. We all know that food is necessary to have the energy to learn. Of the four campuses that were part of the plate waste analysis, the two with recess before lunch ate significantly more of all plate components: entrées, vegetables, fruits, milk, and of course dessert and any a la carte items that were selected.”
According to Taylor, who presented the study to principals last week, information is still being processed but some campuses will likely implement the findings next year.
Taylor found that across the district, when elementary schools schedule recess before lunch, students score significantly higher in the areas of third grade math and reading, fourth grade math, and fourth grade writing.
“… We found that the students who had recess before lunch ate significantly more of their entree, significantly more of their vegetable, significantly more of the fruit that they took, significantly more of the milk, and of course significantly more of dessert, if we had dessert that day. And the a la carte item, if the child chose to purchase like a Capri Sun, or something like that, they finished more of it if recess was before lunch,” Taylor said.