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Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act changes what schoolkids choose to eat at cafeterias
A study from the University of Connecticut shows more kids choose fruit, but fewer vegetables, at school cafeterias. - photo by Leslie Corbly
Students are choosing fruits in the cafeteria line more now than in 2012, when nutrition changes for school lunches were implemented, according to a study from Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at the University of Connecticut, The New York Times reported.

This research adds to evidence that the updated nutrition standards for the National School Lunch Program can succeed in helping students eat healthier, said Marlene B. Schwartz, the studys lead author and the director of the Rudd Center.

According to the study, the percentage of children choosing fruits in the cafeteria rose from 54 percent to 66 percent. In addition, children were wasting less food, eating 84 percent of their entrees instead of only 74 percent in 2012, reported Time.

Time's Eliana Dockterman wrote that researchers began following middle school students in an urban district of Connecticut for two years, beginning with the implementation of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act in the spring of 2012.

Although the study found children ate more fruit, it also identified that children chose fewer vegetables. The study found children chose vegetables at an average rate of 68 percent in 2012. This figure dropped to 52 percent in 2014, according to the Washington Free Beacon.

The Beacon's Elizabeth Harrington wrote that overall fruit consumption rose in the two year period, but the study showed a decline in fruit consumption from 2013-2014. In 2013, fruit consumption peaked at 70.6 percent. This figure dropped to 66 percent by the end of the study in 2014.

We have lots of concerns about this study because, among other things, it only collected data on one day each year at these schools. And of course youre going to see an increase in students getting fruit. Under the new rules, they have to take a fruit when they come through the lunch line, said Diane Pratt-Heavner, a spokeswoman for The School Nutrition Association told The New York Times.

Researchers argued that while the study does have limitations, The new requirement for students to select a fruit or vegetable with each lunch is an effective strategy to improve the nutritional quality of school meals, reported Time.
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