Junk food marketing for healthy school lunches
What can schools learn from fast-food restaurants to get kids to eat healthy lunches?
This story was originally reported by PRI's Here and Now. For more, listen to the audio above.
Most kids don't try very hard to eat healthy school lunches. And simply giving kids healthier lunches doesn't guarantee that they'll be eaten. New behavioral psychology research may be able to help. David Just, co-director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, argues that schools can increase the healthy food consumption by applying long-held practices found at fast food chains to healthy school lunches.
Schools should start by moving the healthy foods to more appealing places, according to Just. Moving fruit out of unattractive metal trays and into well-lit baskets at eye-level, for example, has been shown to increase consumption of the fruit by 100 percent.
Researchers have also tried moving the salad bar into more high traffic areas of the school lunch line. Just told PRI's Here & Now that one school "moved the salad bar to the bottleneck where the line slows down right near the cash register and when they see the salad more of them start to take it and we saw a 200 - 300 percent increase in salad sales."
Schools can also just ask kids if they want to eat healthier. At one school in New York, fruit sales jumped 70 percent because the lunch server asked the students if they wanted fruit with their meal.
"Fast food restaurants have been doing this forever," Just says. "They know it's true. 'Do you want fries with that?' Well, if you start to ask me that I wonder, maybe I do want fries with that." Schools just need to make sure they're asking students if they want fruit or a salad with their meal instead of fries.
"Here and Now" is an essential midday news magazine for those who want the latest news and expanded conversation on today's hot-button topics: public affairs, foreign policy, science and technology, the arts and more. More "Here and Now"