Making sure kids eat a healthy school lunch can be a complicated and expensive endeavor. From counting every calorie to hiring personal chefs and nutrition consultants, we have been hard at work the past few years trying to find the best way to get kids to eat their fruits and veggies. But maybe all it really takes is a smile and a sticker or two?
Medical Daily reports about a new study to be presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting in San Diego that suggests smiley face emoticons and small prizes can do wonders to convince kids to make healthy choices in the school cafeteria.
During the first phase of the study green smiley face emoticons were placed in the school lunch line next to items that were healthier and more nutritious. A few months later the kids were also given the option of choosing a “power plate” which included 4 healthy items. If kids chose a power plate they were awarded a small prize like a sticker or mini beach ball (kind of like a Happy Meal but way healthier).
Upon reviewing the receipts researchers found that plain milk sales went up but 549% while the sale of chocolate milk plummeted from 86.5 to 44.6 percent. Fruit sales went up by 20% and vegetable sales skyrocketed at a 62% increase during the study.
If all it takes is a few smiley faces and stickers then it seems this new method may prove to be a very effective, easy and affordable option for schools to adopt in their quest to promote healthy foods. The author of the study Dr. Robert Siegel concludes, “It looks like we found a very promising, low-cost and effective way of improving the nutrition of elementary school children. This type of program may be a useful component in schools trying to improve the nutrition and health of their students.”
What do you think of the success of this study to get kids to make healthier choices in the school cafeteria?
Do you think more schools should consider adopting a method like this?
Kids are so different...what works well in one situation won't work with other kids...even in a similar situation. Believe it or not, my best experiences happened when the kids were included in the plans. My son's school allowed the students to help plan menus; it was amazing how open they became to new foods and they wasted less. Peer pressure is powerful among kids...if some of their friends eat it ...the group will eat it.
No, I don't think the smiley faces will make a difference to a kid that doesn't like vegetables.