'It's not nutritious until it's eaten'

Dr. Brian Wansink and Dr. David Just at lunch with elementary students at Beverly J. Martin School in Ithaca, NY. Credit: Cornell University Press Office

As part of her "Let's Move! Initiative," First Lady Michelle Obama unveiled a new web resource highlighting new changes in the Chefs Move to Schools, during a CMST gathering in Dallas, TX today. CMTS advocates got together to celebrate Healthy Kids & Healthy Foods in schools by throwing a Top Chef inspired event. By enlisting the help of volunteer chefs around the country, the intent is for chefs to bring taste, excitement and education into the classroom and lunchroom.

The Chefs Move to program is one more example of how people are realizing that "it's not nutrition until it's eaten," according to Brian Wansink, PhD, co-director of the USDA-funded Smarter Lunchroom Movement.

Recent research findings forthcoming in the Journal of Public Health support the idea that "nutritious foods don't necessarily make nutritious eaters," according to David Just, PhD, who also co-directs the Smarter Lunchroom Movement (http://smarterlunchrooms.org.) The study showed that an effective ways to get high schoolers to eat healthier was to take one of two lunch lines and make it a Convenience Line which sold only healthy grab-and-go style foods.

Making one lunch line both more convenient and healthy caused sales of healthier foods to increase by 18% and grams of less healthy foods consumed to decrease by nearly 28%. Also, healthier foods' share of total consumption increased from 33% to 36%. It even led to students taking more milk, according to Andrew Hanks PhD, first author on the study.

In working with the Chefs Move to Schools program, the Cornell team thinks that showing schools how they can make healthy foods the convenient foods will help make chefs even more effective.

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