Healthy food cues better school lunch choices

CORNELL (US) — Just the presence of nutritious foods like whole fruit may prompt kids to make healthier choices in the school cafeteria, even if they don’t choose the fruit itself.

A study by researchers at the Cornell University Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs (BEN Center) found that the mere presence of applesauce and fruit cocktail on the school lunch line sent students to seek out sugary snacks, increasing the number of cookies, ice cream bars, and Little Debbie snack cakes they purchased.

By contrast, the presence of green beans and bananas inspired the students to make more healthful choices.

“The impacts of offering a single vegetable or fruit may have significant implications for the whole meal,” says study co-author Andrew Hanks, a postdoctoral researcher for the BEN Center.

“Even though these students did not take a fruit or vegetable, either in a meal or as a separate item, their choices of the less healthy a la carte items were still affected by the presence of fruits and vegetables,” says BEN Center co-director and study co-author David Just. Brian Wansink, the other co-director, is also a co-author.

The study, published in the April edition of the Agricultural and Resource Economics Review, analyzes school lunch purchase data from two schools in upstate New York

READ MORE: http://www.futurity.org/health-medicine/healthy-food-cues-better-school-lunch-choices/

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