Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Study: Pay kids to eat fruits, vegetables

Date:
December 17, 2013
Source:
Brigham Young University
Summary:
Researchers observed three schools adjust to new school lunch standards that require a serving of fruits or vegetables on every student's tray -- whether the child intends to eat it or not. Students discarded 70 percent of the extra fruits and vegetables -- wasting about $3.8 million each day.

Strange as it sounds, directly paying students to eat a fruit or vegetable is less expensive than serving it and not paying, and gets better results and reduces waste.
Credit: Brigham Young University

The good news: Research suggests that a new federal rule has prompted the nation's schools to serve an extra $5.4 million worth of fruits and vegetables each day.

The bad news: The nation's children throw about $3.8 million of that in the garbage each day.

Researchers from Brigham Young University and Cornell observed three schools adjust to new school lunch standards that require a serving of fruits or vegetables on every student's tray -- whether the child intends to eat it or not. As they report in the December issue of Public Health Nutrition, students discarded 70 percent of the extra fruits and vegetables.

"We saw a minor increase in kids eating the items, but there are other ways to achieve the same goal that are much, much cheaper," said BYU economics professor Joe Price.

Strange as it sounds, directly paying students to eat a fruit or vegetable is less expensive and gets better results.

With Cornell's David Just, Price conducted a second study to measure the effect of small rewards in the lunchroom. The week-long experiments took on different twists in the 15 different schools -- some could earn a nickel, others a quarter, and others a raffle ticket for a larger prize. But the results were generally the same. As the scholars report in The Journal of Human Resources, offering small rewards increased the fruit and vegetable consumption by 80 percent. And the amount of wasted food declined by 33 percent.

Which begs the question: Is benevolent bribery a better way?

"Parents are often misguided about incentives," Price said. "We feel a sense of dirtiness about a bribe. But rewards can be really powerful if the activity creates a new skill or changes preferences."

The case against using bribes in parenting is perhaps best articulated in Alfie Kohn's 1999 book "Punished by Rewards." In many scenarios, the use of rewards can crush internal motivation. With healthy eating, for example, some fear that prizes will prevent children from developing their own motivation to eat things that are good for them. Another danger, known as a boomerang effect, is the possibility that some children would eat less fruits and vegetables when the rewards disappeared.

That's why Price and Just measured fruit and vegetable consumption before and after the week-long experiments. When the week of prizes ended, students went back to the same level of fruit and vegetable consumption as before -- no lasting improvement, but no boomerang effect either.

Now the researchers are studying whether extending the experiments over three to five weeks might yield lasting change. So far things look promising.

"I don't think we should give incentives such a bad rap," Price said. "They should be considered part of a set of tools we can use."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Brigham Young University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal References:

  1. David Just, Joseph Price. Using Incentives to Encourage Healthy Eating in Children. The Journal of Human Resources, December 2013
  2. David Just, Joseph Price. Default options, incentives and food choices: evidence from elementary-school children. Public Health Nutrition, 2013; 16 (12): 2281 DOI: 10.1017/S1368980013001468

Cite This Page:

Brigham Young University. "Study: Pay kids to eat fruits, vegetables." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 December 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131217104601.htm>.
Brigham Young University. (2013, December 17). Study: Pay kids to eat fruits, vegetables. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 18, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131217104601.htm
Brigham Young University. "Study: Pay kids to eat fruits, vegetables." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/12/131217104601.htm (accessed September 18, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Chimp Violence Study Renews Debate On Why They Kill

Newsy (Sep. 17, 2014) The study weighs in on a debate over whether chimps are naturally violent or become that way due to human interference in the environment. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

Some Tobacco Farmers Thrive Amid Challenges

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) The South's tobacco country is surviving, and even thriving in some cases, as demand overseas keeps growers in the fields of one of America's oldest cash crops. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

Scientists Given Rare Glimpse of 350-Kilo Colossal Squid

AFP (Sep. 16, 2014) Scientists say a female colossal squid weighing an estimated 350 kilograms (770 lbs) and thought to be only the second intact specimen ever found was carrying eggs when discovered in the Antarctic. Duration: 00:47 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

Raw: Scientists Examine Colossal Squid

AP (Sep. 16, 2014) Squid experts in New Zealand thawed and examined an unusual catch on Tuesday: a colossal squid. It was captured in Antarctica's remote Ross Sea in December last year and has been frozen for eight months. (Sept. 16) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins