A critique of a U.S. Department of Agriculture program aimed at getting students to eat significantly more fruits and vegetables suggests the benefits of the program have been exaggerated.
As The Denver Post reports, the critique, published on the academic platform PeerJ, alleges that researchers have exaggerated the benefits of the USDA’s Smarter Lunchrooms Movement, which has been adopted by over 30,000 U.S. schools since 2010.
The USDA has also devoted millions of dollars to improving the nutrition of school meals and encouraging food-stamp recipients to buy more produce, but both efforts, according to David Just of Cornell University’s Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition – which administers the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement - produced results equivalent to a single bit of an apple.
The research methods employed by the Smarter Lunchrooms team have fallen under scrutiny and other scientists have found over-exaggerated or over-generalized findings. Just believes it all comes down to perspective – whether it’s fair to call a small change, like the bite of an apple, significant.