Picky Eaters Return to School Lunchrooms

Picky eaters are back in America’s school lunchrooms, turning up their noses at the healthy lunches being dished up under the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act and bringing junk from home. At least that’s what two recent studies are suggesting.

One study, presented at the annual meeting of the American Public Health Association, found that students might select healthy options presented in school cafeterias, but that doesn’t mean they’ll eat them. Between 58% and 75% chose the healthy options, but the rates of actually eating them were much lower. In the case of vegetables, only 24% actually ate them.

In the second study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, researchers found that the lunches students are bringing from home don’t measure up to the nutritional quality of what schools must serve. They were less likely to have fruits and vegetables. They had desserts, chips, sweetened beverages, and more sodium than would be permissible in school lunches.

It seems you can make anything out of these studies you want. If you are cynical about the mandate for healthier school lunches, you can say, “I knew it would never work!”

But you can also take heart that students are choosing healthier options for school lunches. Maybe they’re not eating as much as when they were served lots of tater tots, pizza, and fried chicken nuggets. You might think this is not entirely bad.

Regardless, who finds it really surprising that kids aren’t eating all their vegetables?

Click here to read more from Bloomberg. Click here for the abstract from the APHA meeting and here for the study in JAMA Pediatrics.

Spaghetti Squash Anyone? Photograph © Michel Bish / flickr

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2 Responses to “Picky Eaters Return to School Lunchrooms”

  1. December 01, 2014 at 9:09 am, Jo Cormack said:

    Just tolerating a disliked or unfamiliar food on their plate is a positive for a picky eater… I’d be really interested to see the data a year down the line. By making healthy foods more familiar, schools are increasing the likelihood that children will eat them in the future. It’s all good!

    Solving Picky Eating

    • December 01, 2014 at 9:17 am, Ted said:

      I’m inclined to agree, Jo.