School meals getting kids to eat healthier

I’ve spoken before about how important it is to make our children enjoy healthy foods if we want them to develop healthy eating habits, but we all know this is easier said than done. Getting our kids to love the veggies we’re putting on their plates when all around them, marketers and companies are pushing unhealthy, sugar and fat-filled options is a battle we are all facing!

So it’s always good to hear about some study or report that is helping us to make our kids enjoy healthier foods. One that I read recently, from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in Boston, is particularly encouraging! They undertook a trial in schools, looking at how the foods children are offered can make a difference to their choices. The study found that using chefs in schools to make food taste good actually encouraged healthy eating, with more fruit and veg chosen – however it did also show that to have a real effect, healthy foods need to be introduced over several months. So, it seems that we can train our brains to make healthier choices – we just need to give it a bit of time! The study also found that by placing healthier foods in certain positions in the serving line also made a difference – placing plain milk in front of chocolate milk, and healthier items at the start of the line meant that students tended to make healthier choices. Perhaps something for our schools to bear in mind – healthy choices need to be easier to make than unhealthy ones!

 

References: Juliana F. W. Cohen, Scott A. Richardson, Sarah A. Cluggish, Ellen Parker, Paul J. Catalano, Eric B. Rimm. Effects of Choice Architecture and Chef-Enhanced Meals on the Selection and Consumption of Healthier School Foods. JAMA Pediatrics, 2015;