Kids eat more veggies when school lunch trays make suggestions

Kids are more likely to choose vegetables from the school cafeteria line — and eat them — if their tray contains pictures that subtly suggest the dining option.

That was the result of a University of Minnesota study, in which researchers placed pictures of green beans and carrots in the slots of the partitioned cafeteria trays at Richfield Elementary School.
On a typical day, 42 students took green beans and each student who chose them ate about 19 grams of them, reports Jeremy Olson of the Star Tribune. On the day in which the images were placed in the cafeteria trays, 96 students chose green beans and each student that took them ate about 19.1 grams.
When it came to carrots, 77 students took them and ate 31 grams of them on a typical day. On the day of the study, 238 students took carrots and ate about 27.1 grams. “That means that the students who always took carrots probably ate their usual amount, but that the students who took them for the first time ate less,” Olson reports.
“Kids . . . don’t want to do what they’re told,” said Traci Mann, a psychologist and one of five faculty members leading the study. “What kids want to do is . . . what their friends are doing or what they think their friends are doing.” (Read more)
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