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

BerriesSuspected Borer Could Be Big Bother To Florida Blueberry Growers
November 24, 2014
Producers warned to be on the lookout as scientists probe samples. Read More
FruitsRegistration Opens Dec. 1 For NAFDMA 30th Annual Convention
November 24, 2014
The five-day event includes bus tours, educational sessions, workshops, and a business exchange in Tennessee in February. Read More
CitrusIndustry Organizations Sound Off On President’s Immigration Plan
November 21, 2014
Agriculture is not given the attention it so sorely deserves when it comes to the immigration debate. Read More
CitrusRamped-Up Predatory Mite Production To Benefit Growers
November 21, 2014
Biologics company Beneficial Insectary now rearing two species in its California facility. Read More
Apples & PearsOn The Road With The International Fruit Tree Association Study Tour To Italy Part 2 [Slideshow]
November 21, 2014
Attention to detail is evident in the production of high quality feathered apple trees at GRIBA’s nursery. Read More
Fruits2014 California Winegrape Harvest: Outstanding
November 21, 2014
It’s the earliest crop of the decade, but still a third in a string of great vintages. Read More
FruitsFetzer Vineyards Pioneers Zero Waste
November 21, 2014
Company achieves top sustainability certification by diverting 98% of its waste from the landfill. Read More

The Latest

Apples & PearsEPA Approves Three New Moth Mating Disruption Products
November 25, 2014
Codling moth and oriental fruit moth are targeted by apple and pear growers. Read More
FruitsFruitGrowerConnect Brings Buyers And Sellers Together […
November 25, 2014
Suppliers and growers got down to business in San Diego discussing current needs, solutions, and ways to increase efficiencies on the farm. Read More
CitrusReasons Aplenty Florida Growers Should Feel Good Going …
November 24, 2014
Thanks to recent industry achievements, the next 12-month period is shaping up to be a year to remember --- fondly. Read More
FruitsRegistration Opens Dec. 1 For NAFDMA 30th Annual Conven…
November 24, 2014
The five-day event includes bus tours, educational sessions, workshops, and a business exchange in Tennessee in February. Read More
CitrusIndustry Organizations Sound Off On President’s Immig…
November 21, 2014
Agriculture is not given the attention it so sorely deserves when it comes to the immigration debate. Read More
CitrusRamped-Up Predatory Mite Production To Benefit Growers
November 21, 2014
Biologics company Beneficial Insectary now rearing two species in its California facility. Read More
Fruits2014 California Winegrape Harvest: Outstanding
November 21, 2014
It’s the earliest crop of the decade, but still a third in a string of great vintages. Read More
FruitsFetzer Vineyards Pioneers Zero Waste
November 21, 2014
Company achieves top sustainability certification by diverting 98% of its waste from the landfill. Read More
FruitsClassic Turkey Day Dinner Costing Consumers More This Y…
November 20, 2014
Despite increase, a family of 10 can still get stuffed for less than $50. Read More
EquipmentHighlights From EIMA International In Italy [Slideshow]
November 19, 2014
The 2014 edition of the International Agricultural and Gardening Machinery Exhibition (EIMA) boasted a record number of attendees from 124 countries. Read More
FruitsFixing Farm Labor Woes Worth The Extra Effort [Opinion]
November 19, 2014
40th annual Ag Labor Relations Forum encourages outreach and action. Read More
CitrusWomen’s Impact On Agriculture Impressive [Opinion…
November 18, 2014
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam says the long-term sustainability of farming depends on our youth. Read More
Business PlanningFarm Executive Workshop To Build Management, Leadership…
November 17, 2014
Penn State Extension offering unique learning event for those looking to bolster business. Read More
Farm ManagementGrowing Produce Without Risk Management Program Is A Ba…
November 14, 2014
Utilize available insurance tools to ensure opportunities for long-term survival and success. Read More
FruitsWestern Growers Frustrated By Shutdown Of Ports
November 14, 2014
Pacific Maritime Association is accusing union of intentional work slowdown. Read More
Farm ManagementSouth Florida Farmers Going Extra Mile For Everglades C…
November 12, 2014
Growers in one of the most unique and regulated areas in the world have exceeded benchmarks in the quest to restore the ‘River of Grass.’ Read More
FruitsOur Roots Run Deep In The Pacific Northwest [Opinion]
November 11, 2014
A lot is changing in the Pacific Northwest fruit industry. Many of the most important things are not. Read More
FruitsRosBREED2: Disease Resistance Plus Horticultural Qualit…
November 11, 2014
This new project will develop and apply modern DNA-based tools to deliver new cultivars with superior product quality and disease resistance. Read More