Effects of Longer Seated Lunch Time on Food Consumption and Waste in Elementary and Middle School–age Children

This randomized controlled trial was conducted in 2019 to investigate the effects of longer seated lunch time (20 minutes) on food consumption, waste, and dietary intake for elementary and middle school age children.  Each meal component was analysed separately and the behaviour of children during meals was observed.

Quick takes:

  • Less fruit and vegetables were consumed during a shorter mealtime (10 min) in comparison to 20 minutes of seated mealtime
  • There was no difference in the consumption or waste of entrees and beverage consumption between the 10 min mealtime and the 20min mealtime
  • In general, children consumed more and wasted less during the longer (20 min) mealtime
  • Findings from this study support policies that require longer seated lunch time for the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). These policies are regarded as favourable in terms of reducing food waste and supporting the provision of an adequate dietary intake for children
  • Significantly fewer social interactions were observed during the shorter mealtime in comparison to a 20-minute mealtime which allowed for more time for peer interaction and socialisation amongst children
  • Further research is needed to ascertain the relationship between longer mealtimes and the consumption of fruit and vegetables; and to examine the effects of a seated lunchtime constraints on different age groups and children of different ethnicities

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