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Louder Cafeterias Could Mean Students Eat Fewer Fruits and Vegetables

When was the last time you were in a school cafeteria? If it wasn’t recently, you might be surprised at how loud they are! Between conversations about whether to choose chicken or a burger and conversations about what to play at recess, the large room can get quite noisy. A new study in Appetite from Program in Nutrition alum Matthew Graziose explores whether cafeteria noise, among other environmental factors such as recess timing, plays a role in students’ eating behaviors at lunch.

Researchers sampled 20 schools across the country and came up with two main conclusions. First, school cafeterias are extremely noisy. Noise levels in the cafeterias sampled reached as high as 84 DbA; the equivalent of a food blender or garbage disposal. Second, this noise appears to decrease the amount of fruits and vegetables students are eating. Students at schools with the least noise (lowest 25%) were eating .38 cups of fruits and vegetables daily, whereas students at schools with the most noise (highest 25%) were eating .28 cups of fruits and vegetables daily.

The study also indicated that when schools offer more fruit and vegetable options each day, students eat more. It also confirms prior research that suggests recess before lunch increases school lunch consumption.

 

“We do a lot of work in school cafeterias and see how loud the environment can be at times. It isn’t surprising to me that our research indicates students eat fewer fruits and vegetables when they are surrounded by so much noise. Hopefully with this research we can make a case for quieter eating environments.” – Dr. Pam Koch

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Louder Cafeterias Could Mean Students Eat Fewer Fruits and Vegetables

Researchers sampled 20 schools across the country and came up with two main conclusions. First, school cafeterias are extremely noisy. Noise levels in the cafeterias sampled reached as high as 84 DbA; the equivalent of a food blender or garbage disposal. Second, this noise appears to decrease the amount of fruits and vegetables students are eating. Students at schools with the least noise (lowest 25%) were eating .38 cups of fruits and vegetables daily, whereas students at schools with the most noise (highest 25%) were eating .28 cups of fruits and vegetables daily.

The study also indicated that when schools offer more fruit and vegetable options each day, students eat more. It also confirms prior research that suggests recess before lunch increases school lunch consumption.

 

“We do a lot of work in school cafeterias and see how loud the environment can be at times. It isn’t surprising to me that our research indicates students eat fewer fruits and vegetables when they are surrounded by so much noise. Hopefully with this research we can make a case for quieter eating environments.” – Dr. Pam Koch

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