Researchers have found that schoolchildren in the US are consuming more fruits and vegetables since the new school lunch programme came into effect in 2012.
The study published in American Journal of Preventive Medicine said vegetable intake went up by 0.17 cups/day among students. But the percentage of students choosing vegetables was static at 68 per cent. The percentage of students choosing fruits went up from 53 per cent to 76 per cent.
"Many low-income students rely on school meals for up to half of their daily energy intake. Therefore, school meals can have important implications for student health," said the study's lead investigator, Juliana Cohen of the department of nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health.
Researchers said that though there is substantial waste of food, the quantity has not increased. In fact, kids are eating more fruits and vegetables and their diet has improved. They found 60-75 per cent of vegetables and 40 per cent of fruit was dumped.
In 2012, the US Department of Agriculture revamped it guidelines on school lunches according to which students were supposed to take more whole grains, fruits and vegetables and it was must to choose a fruit or a vegetable.
"There was a fear that if you're forcing students to take the fruit, that they would take it and then throw it in the garbage, and that's not what we found. We found that, in fact, students were consuming the fruit," said Cohen.
The study culled out details of 5,936 students in a low-income, urban school district in Massachusetts for two days each in 2011 and 2012.