Early lunches lead to poor eating habits

By Brad Diamond
March 9, 2006

I’m sure we all were stuck with a lunch period that was way too early during our younger days in school. We now have the freedom to eat whenever we please, but lunch wasn’t always such a democratic process.

Researchers at Pennsylvania State University fear that early lunches may be contributing to bad eating habits. In a survey of schools, they found that those with lunch periods starting at 10:30 a.m. or earlier have higher sales at those times. Kids are eating a lot more because they know dinner is a long way off. The biggest sellers typically include pizza, burgers, cookies and pastries.

The Penn State researchers surveyed 228 high schools in Pennsylvania and found 55 had lunch periods that started at 10:30 a.m. or earlier. Some students are deciding not to eat breakfast because they know that lunch is only two hours into the start of their day. We have all heard a million times about how breakfast is the most important meal we eat. Obviously you won’t be as attentive in early classes if you don’t eat something before them. Students who skip breakfast will only cut back on their learning.

For those students who are eating breakfast, some may not eat an early lunch because they simply aren’t hungry yet. This poses another set of problems. These students will be distracted by an empty stomach later in the day. It seems that any way you look at it, early lunches aren’t helping anyone.

At my high school we were on something called block scheduling. Our classes were 85 minutes long, but you took only four classes per semester. This meant that we only had four lunch periods, none of which were before 11 a.m. This form of scheduling not only allowed us to concentrate on fewer subjects, but it also held lunch at much more reasonable times.

I think that if more high schools considered block scheduling, we wouldn’t have so many students with poor eating habits. Those same high schools might even see boosts in student grades as well, being that kids will no longer overwhelmed with seven classes.

Posted to the web by Shane Evans

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Brad Diamond

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