Study: Pay Kids To Eat Vegetables And Fruit

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 (BYU) 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% 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%. And the amount of wasted food declined by 33%.

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.”

The first study documenting the impact of the new rule appears in the December 2013 issue of Public Health Nutrition. The second study is titled “Using Incentives to Encourage Healthy Eating in Children” and is available to subscribers of The Journal of Human Resources. An earlier version of the paper is available at Price’s website.

Source: Brigham Young University press release

Topics:

Leave a Reply

One comment on “Study: Pay Kids To Eat Vegetables And Fruit

  1. Not even going to read beyond the title. Whoever thought this was a good idea needs a talking to. You want to save money and get the kids eating right talk to the parents and encourage the parents to pack a lunch for their students.

Fruits Stories

GrapesThird Straight Record Crop For Washington Grapes
September 19, 2014
Numbers expected to climb as more vines planted in the state. Read More
GrapesFrench Winegrowers Face Higher Labor Costs
September 19, 2014
French wineries may come under added financial pressure as the government considers imposing social charges on wages paid to harvest workers with short-term contracts. Read More
FruitsFlorida Fruit & Vegetable Association Seeks Fresh Approach To Marketing
September 17, 2014
New partnership bolsters Fresh From Florida program. Read More
CitrusFDA Announces Cooperative Agreement To Implement National Produce Safety Rule
September 17, 2014
Agreement will provide information to help plan and carry out the produce safety rule in partnership with state regulatory agencies. Read More
Apples & PearsCanneries Hope To Encourage Growers To Grow Pears For Processing
September 15, 2014
Higher wholesale prices offered as means to boost canning pear acres. Read More
BerriesBotrytis Gray Mold Pressure Increasing With Humid Weather
September 15, 2014
Michigan State University researcher offers tips to reduce the spread of spores. Read More
Fruits5 Mistakes You May Be Making With Your Orchard’s Website
September 15, 2014
These deadly sins may be hurting your customers’ experience — and costing you money. Read More

The Latest

FruitsFlorida Fruit & Vegetable Association Seeks Fresh A…
September 17, 2014
New partnership bolsters Fresh From Florida program. Read More
CitrusFDA Announces Cooperative Agreement To Implement Nation…
September 17, 2014
Agreement will provide information to help plan and carry out the produce safety rule in partnership with state regulatory agencies. Read More
FruitsDeadline Nearing For Noninsured Crop Disaster Assistanc…
September 15, 2014
Fruit growers who suffered losses due to frost or freeze in 2012 could be eligible for assistance through USDA’S Farm Service Agency. Read More
Fruits5 Mistakes You May Be Making With Your Orchard’s …
September 15, 2014
These deadly sins may be hurting your customers’ experience — and costing you money. Read More
FruitsSuccess And The Not-Top-100 Grower [Opinion]
September 15, 2014
Innovation isn't only happening at the top. Some of the most interesting ideas in the fruit industry are being executed by small growers. Read More
FruitsAmerican and Western Fruit Grower’s 2014 Top 100 …
September 13, 2014
The nations’s largest growers reflect how technology, innovations, and promotion help make their businesses run more efficiently. Read More
FruitsSolve This Grower’s New Planting Problem
September 12, 2014
American Fruit Grower’s advice forum focuses on solving your problems and issues that arise in business and the growing season. Read More
FruitsUSDA Needs Your Help In Tracking Brown Marmorated Stink…
September 11, 2014
Researchers seeking voluntary information to track how pest overwinters. Read More
Crop ProtectionGiant Snail Threat Spreading In South Florida
September 10, 2014
Dangerous invasive pests found well outside Miami-area hot zone. Read More
EquipmentJohn Deere Announces Changes To 5M Utility Tractors
September 9, 2014
Enhanced operator experience, serviceability, performance, and comfort, are among the new features. Read More
Crop ProtectionStockton’s Timorex Gold Biofungicide Receives EPA Reg…
September 9, 2014
This broad spectrum fungicide can be used in rotation or in a tank mix. Read More
FruitsSmaller Stores Taking Greater Market Share Of Produce P…
September 9, 2014
Drug, dollar, and convenience stores sales increased 7.1%, 2.0%, and 1.4%, respectively, while perishables at grocery stores decreased by 2.6% in 2013. Read More
FruitsStrategies To Prevent Secondary Pests Following Sprays …
September 9, 2014
Penn State University researcher offers guidelines and control strategies for minimizing the impacts on mites for the next season. Read More
CitrusFMC Acquires Cheminova
September 9, 2014
Transaction expected to close in early 2015. Read More
CitrusSouth Florida Wet Season Receives Slight Respite
September 9, 2014
Reports indicate most areas around the region received below average rainfall during August. Read More
FruitsHigh Demand Drives Tree Fruit Rootstock Shortage
September 8, 2014
Nurseries struggling to balance continued demand for nursery stock and resources as fruit plantings continue to climb. Read More
FruitsImproving Water Management Techniques
September 8, 2014
Improving groundwater management and managing salinity are a couple tactics growers can use to cope with the effects of the drought. Read More
Farm ManagementStay One Step Ahead Of Legal Challenges
September 8, 2014
Don’t get caught up in easily prevented legal troubles from a lack of planning. Read More