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    School Cafeterias Try Psychology In The Lunch Line

    From Yahoo News. Image by Leo-setä:

    Hide the chocolate milk behind the plain milk. Get those apples and oranges out of stainless steel bins and into petty baskets. Cash-only for desserts.

    These subtle moves can entice kids to make healthier choices in school lunch lines, studies show. Food and restaurant marketers have long used similar tricks. Now the government wants in on the act, giving $2 Million to food behavior scientists to find ways to use psychology to improve kids’ use of the federal school lunch program and fight childhood obesity.

    About one-third of children and teens are obese or overweight. Bans on soda and junk food have backfired in some places. Some students have abandoned school meal programs that tried to force-feed healthy choices. When one school district put fruit on every lunch tray, most of it ended up in the garbage.

    So instead of pursuing a carrot on a stick approach, schools want to entice kids to choose the carrot sticks, figuring children are more likely to eat something they select themselves.

    Some tricks used:

    • Keep ice cream in freezers without glass display tops so the treats are out of sight.
    • Move salad bars next to the checkout registers, where students linger to pay, giving them more time to ponder a salad.
    • Start a quick line for make-your-own subs and wraps.
    • Renaming food in elementary schools to “X-ray vision carrots” and “lean, mean green beans”.
    • Cafeteria workers get more involved by asking, “Would you rather have green beans or carrots today?” instead of waiting for a kid to request them. Just asking “Do you want a salad with that?” on pizza day at one high school raised salad consumption 30 percent.


    Schools try hard to offer healthy choices for their students, but the real lesson starts at home. What are your tips and tricks for encouraging healthy eating habits? The first 25 comments will receive a $25 gift certificate to CookiesKids.com.

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