The fight to get kids to eat healthy foods, especially fruits and vegetables, is a battle as old as time. But as childhood obesity rates continue to spiral out of control, more emphasis than ever has been placed on encouraging kids to eat less fat and sugar and more produce and whole grains. While results across the board have been slightly mixed, more and more schools are offering healthy choices and eliminating processed foods from the menu. And according to one study, the hard work is paying off.
A three-year study of 12 different middle schools in Connecticut found that kids are not only eating healthier food at school, but also throwing less of it away. During the study, researchers observed what kids were choosing for lunch and eating, comparing data before new healthier standards went into effect and after they were in effect. After analyzing the data, researchers found that the number of students choosing fruit in the lunch line increased from 54 percent before healthy guidelines was enacted to 66 percent after. And while fewer children may be choosing vegetables, 20 percent more are actually eating them after putting them on the tray.
Dr. Marlene Schwartz, director of the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut, led the study. She believes that although some of the increases may seem marginal, they still mean that healthy guidelines are working. Many of these healthy initiatives in school are not only offering more fruits and veggies, but they are also serving them in fun ways. Studies have shown that kids are more willing to try foods if they are in fun shapes. So maybe a star-shaped carrot slice or a fancy cucumber is all it takes to get your kids to eat healthy too!
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