WASHINGTON, D.C. – A new study confirms what many parents and school lunch officials already know: students in the National School Lunch Program are trashing their government-mandated fruits and vegetables.

University of Vermont researchers used digital photography to analyze hundreds of school lunch trays at two northeast elementary schools on 21 visits before and after increased school food regulations championed by first lady Michelle Obama went into effect in 2012, CBS News reports.

Those regulations limit calories, fat, sugar, sodium, whole grain and other elements of school lunches, as well as mandate that all students take a fruit or vegetable, whether they eat it or not.

Researchers discovered “that while children placed more fruits and vegetables on their trays – as required by the USDA mandates put in place in 2012 – they consumed fewer of them,” according to the news site.

“The amount of food wasted increased by 56 percent, the researchers found.”

The findings contradict an often cited study by the Harvard School of Public Health in 2014 that found the opposite – that students ate more fruits and vegetables – although that study also noted more fruits and vegetables in the trash.

The Harvard study noted “high levels of fruit and vegetable waste continued to be a problem – students discarded roughly 60-75 percent of the vegetables and 40 percent of the fruit on their trays. The authors say that schools must focus on improving food quality and palatability to reduce waste,” according to…

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