Holding recess before lunch increases fruit and vegetable consumption and decreases waste among schoolchildren, finds a study.
It can increase fruit and vegetable consumption by up to 54%.
"Recess is often held after lunch so children hurry to 'finish' so that they can go play - this results in wasted fruits and vegetables," said co-author David Just from Cornell University.
"We found that if recess is held before lunch, students come to lunch with healthy appetites and less urgency and are more likely to finish their fruits and vegetables," Just said.
Many schools in the US have reported that fruits and vegetables are feeding trash cans rather than students.
Lead author Joseph Price from Brigham Young University and Just conducted the study in a school district in Orem, Utah.
Seven schools within the district (grades one-six) participated in the study, three of which switched recess to before lunch and four continued to hold recess after lunch.
The researchers measured fruit and vegetable waste by standing next to the trash cans and recording the number of servings of fruits and vegetables that each student consumed or threw away.
They also measured whether or not each student ate at least one serving of fruits or vegetables.
After analysing a total of 22,939 observations, the researchers concluded that in the schools that switched recess to before lunch, children ate 54% more fruits and vegetables.
There was also a 45% increase in those eating at least one serving of fruits and vegetables.
An increased fruit and vegetable consumption in young children can have positive long term health effects, the researchers noted in the study published in the journal Preventive Medicine.