Offered healthy food by servers, school kids take the bait.

Sally Squires:

You know how hard it can be to say no.
But our tendency to accept what we’re offered may have positive value when it comes to encouraging children to choose — and eat — healthier food at school. A new report suggests that there’s a simple, low-cost approach: Just offer it to them.
That’s the conclusion of a pilot program in Guilford, Conn., where school cafeteria servers were trained to ask elementary school students, “Would you like fruit or juice with your lunch?” Ninety percent of the children said yes. What’s more, 80% then consumed the fruit or juice that they put on their trays.
Compare those numbers with students at a nearby school who also participated in the study. At lunch, the same fruit and juice was available, but it wasn’t personally offered to the kids. The difference? Just 60% of these students reached for fruit or juice on their own.
These findings “have pretty significant implications,” says the pilot program’s designer, Marlene Schwartz, director of research and school programs at Yale University’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity. They suggest, she says, that if the National School Lunch Program were to modify its regulations and had servers actually encourage children to eat fruits and vegetables, their consumption might increase.

2 thoughts on “Offered healthy food by servers, school kids take the bait.”

  1. Before I rip into this one, please allow me to wash down a twinkie with some Mountain Dew. Wait a minute….. some of that gooey filling fell to the carpet….got it. Ummm , much better.
    Let’s see. According to the pilot program if 100 kids are asked if they want fruit, 90 of them say yes. Then, only 80 percent of those actually ate the food they said they wanted. This means 20 percent of the 90, or 27 percent of the total, threw the food in the dumpster. Hey Marlene, are you with me so far?
    On the other hand, only 60% of the pudgy kids at the other school took the fruit even if not asked. I’ll assume they will eat it at a higher percentage rate than those who it was offered to.
    So. School one with food nannys waste almost 30 percent of the fruit while school two, exercising that incidious invention called freedom, wastes little or no fruit. All for a meager, and highly doubtful 10% increase in total fruit consumption.

  2. Not to mention the fact that lumping fruit and juice into the same “healthy” category is sort of like calling ketchup a vegetable…..

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