Researchers have come up with a way to get kids to chow down on 54% more fruits and vegetables, and it's remarkably straightforward: Just have them go out for recess before lunch rather than afterward. Researchers studied 2,500 elementary-schoolers in Utah receiving fruits and veggies at lunch as part of the National School Lunch Program. Three of seven schools studied moved their recess periods to before lunch, and researchers had the unenviable task of watching the garbage cans to see how much healthy stuff got thrown away. Turns out that the kids ate 54% more fruits and vegetables when recess was before lunch, Time reports. Plus, in schools that made the swap, 45% more kids ate at least one serving of fruits and veggies.
It's not hard to explain the increase when kids are rushing through their lunches to get outside. "Recess is a pretty big deal for most kids. If you have kids (choose) between playing and eating their veggies, the time spent playing is going to win most of the time," says a study author. There are cost benefits, too: First of all, the change itself costs nothing, Cornell University reports. What's more, "decreasing waste of fruits and vegetables is important for schools and districts that are faced with high costs of offering healthier food choices," researchers say. The findings, Time notes, might not apply to kids bringing their lunches, who have more time to eat since they're not waiting in line. (Meanwhile, if you find yourself eating less and less meat, you might be a "reducetarian.")