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
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons
Apples & Pears
May 1, 2016
USApple Debuts New Website
Industry group says new site is responsive to different formats, designed to be more consumer and industry friendly. Read More
apple tree trellising washington state
Apples & Pears
April 28, 2016
Cracks In Your Orchard’s Infrastructure Expose Bigger Flaws
Modern blocks can increase your production, but if your training system is shoddy, you could see major losses. Read More
Brandt logo
Citrus
April 28, 2016
Brandt Acquires Majority Interest In Utah-Based Baicor
Baicor will operate as a subsidiary in Brandt’s specialty formulations division. Read More
workers bending
Fruits
April 28, 2016
Knowing Role, Expectations Beneficial To Your Staff
Labor management is much more than just delegation. Read More
field shot
Fruits
April 28, 2016
USDA Establishes New Partnership To Link Underserved Growers To Farm Service Agency Programs
Minority, women, new and beginning, military, veteran, and urban producers to receive training and information on agency services. Read More
Vineyard Labor Downsized GP
Apples & Pears
April 28, 2016
The Truth About Most Farmworkers [Opinion]
Just ask any grower who has placed a help wanted ad. Read More
Jones Potato Farm field in Parrish, FL
Citrus
April 27, 2016
Meet Florida’s New Crop Of Agricultural Environmental Leaders
Annual award program recognizes farmers practicing environmentally innovative techniques. Read More
The Latest
Citrus
May 2, 2016
As Hurricane Season Nears, South Florida…
All basins around the region experience rainfall deficits during April as totals fall far below average. Read More
Equipment
May 2, 2016
USDA Offers New Loans For Portable Farm …
Portable equipment can help producers, including small and local farmers, get products to market quickly. Read More
Farm Management
May 2, 2016
USDA Unveils New Urban Agriculture Toolk…
For urban farmers and agribusiness entrepreneurs, the toolkit is an electronic document that helps users navigate more than 70 resources, including technical assistance and financing opportunities. Read More
Citrus
April 28, 2016
Brandt Acquires Majority Interest In Uta…
Baicor will operate as a subsidiary in Brandt’s specialty formulations division. Read More
Fruits
April 28, 2016
Knowing Role, Expectations Beneficial To…
Labor management is much more than just delegation. Read More
Fruits
April 28, 2016
USDA Establishes New Partnership To Link…
Minority, women, new and beginning, military, veteran, and urban producers to receive training and information on agency services. Read More
Citrus
April 27, 2016
Meet Florida’s New Crop Of Agricultural …
Annual award program recognizes farmers practicing environmentally innovative techniques. Read More
Fruits
April 27, 2016
It’s Time To Rethink Grade Standards For…
Food waste is largely dictated by limiting produce standards. Read More
Fruits
April 27, 2016
Common Sense On Immigration [Opinion: On…
We need a guest worker program if we’re going to feed America and ensure our national security. Read More
Citrus
April 26, 2016
Deception Is A Dish Best Never Served [O…
Recent mainstream media kerfuffle over local food legitimacy stirs up the need for more clearly defined terms, better awareness among consumers. Read More
Fruits
April 26, 2016
New Study Finds Traditional Migrant Work…
Ball State University research shows many of the agricultural migrant workers of the past just aren’t migrating any more. Read More
Citrus
April 26, 2016
Farm Bureau Says Labor Visa Backlogs Thr…
Agency calls for swifter processing of paperwork so growers' requests for crews can be met. Read More
Fruits
April 25, 2016
Avocados Emerging As Attractive Alternat…
Researchers vetting viability of commercial production in the Indian River region. Read More
Fertilizer
April 25, 2016
FDA Extends Comment Period On Using Raw …
The assessment will be designed to evaluate the risk that the use of raw manure as fertilizer on produce crops may pose for consumer health.   Read More
Cucurbits
April 23, 2016
Award-Winning Interactive Music Video Pr…
Funded by the National Watermelon Promotion Board, the video was produced in support of the rock and roll nutrition show, Jump With Jill. Read More
Citrus
April 22, 2016
Happy Trails To A Great Researcher, Bett…
Dr. Brian Boman worked with growers to examine their nutrient and water use and how practices could be modified to not only lessen environmental impacts, but also increase growers’ profitability. Read More
Food Safety
April 21, 2016
It’s Your Duty To Challenge The &#…
The Environmental Working Group is at it again, making it critical for growers to keep customers informed about production practices and the safety of produce. Read More
Citrus
April 20, 2016
USDA Offers $4 Million For Pest Manageme…
Funding to be used to increase crop protection practices, tackle high-priority pests. Read More
[gravityform id="62" title="false" description="false"]