Is it an ongoing struggle to get your kids to eat anything green? Any type of vegetable? Even fruit is a challenge? You've tried it all: from making cute fruit faces to sneaking vegetables into mac and cheese or muffins, but your little ones are not deceived. What can you do? Maybe it's time to take a tip from science?!
A new study in the Journal of Health Economics, suggests paying children for eating fruits and vegetables. What?! Yes, financial reward may not seem a viable tactic but the study suggests this approach comes with interesting upsides such as leading children to consistently make healthier choices in the long run.
The study was conducted by a team of three researchers, Joseph Price, associate professor of economics at Brigham Young University, George Loewenstein, professor of economics and psychology at Carnegie Mellon University, and Kevin Volpp, professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Over the course of a year and a half, 8,000 children (1st-6th grades) from 40 elementary schools were selected to see if this short-term strategy could lead children to continue their healthy eating habits.
Children were presented with a 25-cent token, which they could use at the school's store, carnival, or book fair, if they ate at least one serving of fruits or vegetables. The choice could be as simple as an pineapple slices, a side salad or a banana at lunch. Researchers noted a spike in the consumption of fruits and vegetables, detailing that the behavior continued two months after the reward system was removed. Keeping up the payment system appears to be key, the three week initiatives saw 21% of children continue to eat a fruit or vegetable for lunch after the study was over while the five week initiatives saw 44% of students who took part in the study continue to choose fruit and vegetables. A financial reward for eating kale just might have lasting healthy results?