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Cafeteria noise exposure and fruit and vegetable consumption at school lunch: A cross-sectional study of elementary students

Graziose, Matthew M., Koch, Pamela A., Wolf, Randi, Gray, Heewon L., Trent, Raynika, Contento, Isobel R.
Appetite 2019 v.136 pp. 130-136
cafeterias, children, cross-sectional studies, digital images, elementary students, environmental exposure, environmental factors, fruits, linear models, lunch, noise pollution, school lunch, schools, vegetable consumption, vegetables, United States
Presently in the U.S., few children meet the recommendation for daily consumption of fruits and vegetables (FV). School feeding programs have shown promise for increasing FV consumption among young children. However, several aspects of the school cafeteria environment have not been examined regarding their relationship with FV consumption. The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between noise, selected environmental factors previously explored in the literature (i.e., recess/lunch order, the amount of time allocated for lunch, the presence of a salad bar, and number of FV items offered) and 2nd and 3rd grade students’ FV consumption during lunch. A digital photography method was used to assess FV consumption among students across 40 days from 20 schools and environmental exposures, including the noise or sound pressure level of the cafeteria, were assessed during lunch. On average, students in this study consumed 0.35 (SD = 0.31) cups of fruit and 0.24 (SD = 0.29) cups of vegetables. The average noise level in cafeterias was 79.7 (SD = 4.1) Leq DbA (range 70 DbA - 84 DbA). Combined FV consumption was negatively associated with noise exposure (B = −0.017; SE = 0.004; P < 0.001) in hierarchical linear models. Among young children eating in cafeterias, increased noise levels may decrease consumption of fruits and vegetables at the school lunch meal. We hypothesize that increased noise can work in two ways to decrease FV consumption: increased socializing (i.e., talking) and/or decreased hedonic enjoyment of the school lunch meal, however future research is needed to examine these mechanisms and provide causal evidence of this effect.