Study suggests rushed lunch results in poor health; do Valley students get enough time?

Most schools offer a thirty minute lunch break but some classes only get 18 minutes. How much time is enough?

PHOENIX -  Research suggests the allotted time to eat lunch at school correlates to students' health -- specifically, too little time to eat may result in poor nutrition. 

A 2015 study out of Harvard University suggests students with less than 20 minutes to eat school lunches consume significantly less of their entrees, milk, and vegetables than those who aren’t as rushed. Students were also less likely to choose to eat fruit and more likely to waste food.

"It's really important that (students) do have good nutrition," said Arizona State University Professor Christy Lespron.

Lespron serves as Assistant Dean for Student Services in the College of Health Solutions and teaches in the School of Nutrition and Health Promotion at ASU.

"I have a 9-year-old and she's in fourth grade. And I pack her lunch everyday and sometimes it's eaten and other times it's hardly anything and I'm like, 'what happened?' and she says 'I only had 10 minutes to eat,'" Lespron said.

12 News made calls to school officials and found Valley elementary school districts, on average, allot about 30 minutes for students to eat lunch, but one school in particular only allowed 17 minutes at most. 

The Cheyenne Traditional School in Scottsdale offers a 16-minute lunch for 6th and 7th graders and a 17-minute lunch for 8th graders, immediately followed by recess. 

12 News wanted to find out from parents of students, so the team took to Facebook and asked, "how much time does your child get for lunch at school?" 

Several commenters said their students received about 15 to 20 minutes to eat. Most comments continued to say that lunch was immediately followed by playtime or recess. 

While lunch time affects all students' health, the Harvard study suggests this is especially concerning for students who come from low-income families and may rely on school meals for up to half their daily energy intake.

RELATED: Study: Arizona ranks 51st in the US for teachers

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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