School lunch programs seek strategies to increase student’ fruit consumption. This study compares 2nd and 3rd grade students’ consumption of cut versus whole fruit during school lunch.
Design, Setting, Participants, and Intervention
Second and 3rd grade students from 14 New York City public elementary schools were observed on at least 3 days during lunch. On observation days, 3–6 researchers observed 4 random students each, using the System of Observational Cafeteria Assessment of Foods Eaten (SOCAFE).
Outcome Measures and Analysis
Fruit selection was recorded, as was amount consumed (0%, 10%/bite, 25%, 50%, 75%, 100%, >100%). Apples and pears were served both as cut and whole. Univariate ANOVA tested for mean differences between cut and whole fruit, and 2nd and 3rd graders.
Overall, cut fruit was consumed significantly more than whole fruit (62%, SD=49% versus 33%, SD=41%, p<0.001). Specifically 64% (sd=49%) of sliced apples were consumed versus 36% (sd=41%) whole. Data were similar for pears, 52% (sd=50%) chopped versus 27% (sd=40%) whole. Differences were significant for both fruits (p<0.01). Apple type and grade had a significant interaction with 3rd graders eating more than 2nd graders for sliced apples (80%, sd=46% vs. 48%, sd=47%, p<0.01). There were no significant interaction of pear type and grade.
Conclusions and Implications
Students ate more fruit when it was served cut versus when it was served whole. This confirms previous research on cut versus whole apples. School lunch programs hoping to increase fruit consumption in younger elementary school children could try serving cut fruit more often.
Wellness In The Schools
© 2016 Published by Elsevier Inc.