Taste & Presentation Matter for School Lunch


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A recent study shows that two key factors — taste and choice — are instrumental in improving school childrens’ lunchtime  nutritional choices. You need both, the researchers found. Absent tasty food, choice alone is doomed to fail.The study was published in the March 2015 issue of JAMA Pediatrics.

When children exercise their small measure of independence in the school lunch line, they do respond well to choice, according to the study. So giving kids a range of options for fruits and vegetables — and presenting the healthiest options in attractive ways — prompts these tough customers to pick them more often.

But when it comes to getting kids to not just pick but actually eat more fruits and vegetables over the long haul, there’s no substitute for a tasty food, the researchers found. Displaying a real chef’s offerings in an appealing way worked far better than just gussying up traditional school-lunch fare with better presentation.

This study highlights the importance of sustained involvement from culinary professionals. A one-time consultation from a chef is unlikely to be effective; a long-term partnership is required to improve the nutritional content of childrens’ meals.

Full article from the LA Times

Study from JAMA Pediatrics

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