CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA) – When kids sit down to eat lunch, they might not go straight for the fruits and vegetables on their plate.

But a recent report from the U of I might have a solution for that.

It something that sounds simple, but they found the answer is longer lunches. People with the U of I College of Agricultural, Consumer, and Environmental Sciences did research on this.

They found that if kids are sitting at lunch longer, they tend to reach for those other things on their plate.

“I always encourage them to grab a fruit, grab an apple, sit down and enjoy it,” Brittney Coleman, a school aged worker for Peter Pan Learning Center, said.

She said sometimes, it’s hard to get the kids to eat healthy choices.

“I like to introduce it to them even if they don’t want it, I say try it, have a little you might like it,” Coleman said.

A recent report from the University of Illinois said they found something that could help.

“What we found is that when children have longer seated lunchtime, they eat significantly more of their fruits and vegetables,” Melissa Prescott, an Assistant Professor of School in Childhood foods and nutrition, said.

Prescott helped co-author the report and research. For one month, they studied how children eat when they have a longer lunch versus shorter.

“Lunch time length is a barrier in terms of kids eating as much food as they want to eat,” she said.

The report said if kids have at least 20 minutes of seated lunch, they’re more likely to eat stuff that’s actually good for them.

Prescott said it impacts kids who come from families with limited income even more because they rely on school lunches, but she said there’s a way schools can help.

A lot of the time, lunch periods, a lot more goes than just eating lunch during those times. You’re splitting those times with recess, you’re spending time in line. So, as much efficient as you can make the lunch line process, that’s also a win. Less time in line means more time to eat,” she said.

Coleman said that’s something they already do at Peter Pan’s early learning center. She said they actually give their kids 30 minutes to eat everything, and if it’s something new to them, they introduce it in smaller portions.

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