A Cafeteria Makeover Makes the Veggies Go Down Easier

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You can lead a child to an apple at the school lunch line, but you can’t make him eat it…. unless you put it in a pretty bowl. A new study found that making very simple changes to a school cafeteria can have a huge impact on what kids eat.

The findings, published in the Journal if Pediatrics, found that schools that made very simple changes to the school cafeteria — improvements that cost less than $50 — could change how kids ate.

Put fruit and vegetables on tiered stands or in pretty bowls so the kids will reach for them. Or maybe place them by the cashier so a banana becomes  the preferred “impulse buy.” Tell staff to ask kids if they want an apple with their sandwich.

The study, led by researchers at Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics, found that even these minor changes had a big impact. Kids were 13 percent more likely to choose a fruit and 23 percent more likely to munch on vegetables if the food was presented in a more appealing way. And they actually ate them too. Consumption went up by 18 for fruit and 25 percent for the veggies.

Kids: Do you think if fruits and vegetables were offered in a more appealing way you’d be more likely to put them on your tray at lunch?