Nudges can help kids choose healthy lunches


2016-09-07 23:49

There has been evidence that inexpensive nudges can encourage the choice of healthy food items in the lunchroom at school.

There have been growing concerns about the growing obesity epidemic among children. Too much junk food and not enough exercise seems to be the primary reasons for this problem.

Simple nudges help kids in choose healthy lunches

The University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences has reported that simple nudges assist kids in choosing healthy lunches. Evidence has surfaced that not very expensive nudges can assist in encouraging kids to choose healthy foods in the school lunchroom.

Researchers at the University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences say that some kids have been encouraged to eat healthier meals with the use of computers to order lunch and little messages which say the child should add more nutritious food groups. The researchers think this offers school lunch programs and parents viable tools to help kids eat more nutritious meals when they are at school.

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Very few children consume the federally recommended amount of fruits and vegetables

There are more than 5 billion school lunches served everyday in the United States according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Even though about 99.9 percent of American kids between the ages of 12 and 18 eat fruits and vegetables everyday, the federally recommended amount of fruits and vegetables is consumed by less than 1 percent of those children.

Researchers studied 71 students who participate in the National School Lunch Program at a Florida public school for a study which has been published in the Journal of Economic Psychology. The researchers studied the effects of pre-ordering lunch and behavioral nudges on the food item selection of the participants.

Nudges are messages via computer regarding healthy food choices

It was observed that students who pre-ordered their meals via computer chose significantly higher quantities of vegetables, fruits, and low-fat milk. Interestingly there was a further increase in selection of vegetables, fruits, and low-fat milk with nudging. The nudges were messages which were received via computer which indicated the child did not select all five components which make up a healthy lunch. These consist of grain, meat or a meat alternative, vegetable, fruit, and low-fat milk.

The nudges have been derived from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s MyPlate program. MyPlate encourages consumers to discover their own healthy eating style and to build on this throughout their lifetimes. It is specifically advised to focus on variety and amount of food and on nutrition. Foods and beverages with less saturated fat, sodium and added sugars are encouraged. Healthy eating is suggested to be supported for everyone. For kids in school inexpensive nudges can help encourage them to choose healthy food for lunch.

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