Should We Bribe Kids into Eating Fruits and Veggies?

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According to a new study conducted by a joint research teams from Brigham Young and Cornell Universities, it pays to pay school children to eat fruits and vegetables. Actually, it’s less expensive and brings better results than simply adding fruits or vegetables to their lunches.

healthy school lunch, fruits and veggies

Photo courtesy of Wendy Copley via Flickr

Previous research published in the journal Public Health Nutrition found, that since the new federal rule came to effect, schools nationwide included an extra $5.4 million worth of fruits and vegetables to kids’ lunches every single school day, however about $3.8 million worth of them ended in the garbage. Therefore a second study from the Brigham Young and Cornell research teams focused on measuring the effect of small rewards in the lunchroom. The results proved that offering small rewards increased the fruits and vegetables consumption by 80 percent while the amount of wasted food declined by 33 percent. As Joe Price, head researcher and professor of economics at Brigham Young University stated: “Parents are often misguided about incentives as they 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 researches recommend that schools requiring children to consume fruits and vegetables with their lunch should consider adopting additional interventions to make sure that these don’t end up in the waste. Similarly, if parents feel their children are not consuming enough fruits and vegetables, they should try including various small incentives, and see if and which work for them best.

More information about kids and fruit and vegetables:

Are Your Kids Eating Enough Fruit and Veggies?

When Should You Choose Organic Food?

Why Is Color Variety Important in Your Salad?

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