Before you balk at the idea of dishing out greens to get your kids to eat their greens, getting kids to eat veggies by paying them might have some benefits, says science. A recent study published in the Journal of Health Economics proved that providing small incentives doubled the amount of children eating at least one serving of fruits or vegetables. These findings indicate that short-run incentives can produce changes in behavior that persist after the incentives are removed.
Here’s how the study worked:
At lunchtime, students who ate at least one serving of fruit or vegetable, such as an apple, fresh peaches, pineapple, side salad or a banana, received a 25-cent token that could be redeemed at the school’s store, carnival, or book fair. The researchers saw an immediate spike in consumption; they also noted that this change in behavior was sustained.
Two months after the incentives ended, many more students than before the program started were still eating a fruit or vegetable at lunch. For schools that provided the 25-cent incentive for three weeks, 21 percent more children were eating at least one serving of fruit or vegetable at lunch than before. The effect was even greater for schools that implemented the program for five weeks, which led to a 44 percent increase in consumption two months out. The study findings suggest that longer intervention periods lead to greater persistence of behavior change.
So, you don’t have to go broke over the long run…just create a short payment plan of about 3-5 weeks with those picky eaters, and you could be investing in your child’s healthy habits well into the future (or, for at least for two months, which was documented in this study).
The Smart Lifebites team was fascinated by this report, and we wanted to share the science with our readers to see what you thought about this potential reward system. Would you pay for your kids to eat their fruits and veggies? Is there more at stake here than just formulating a healthy habit through bribery? Is there a potential downside? Do we open ourselves up to having to pay our kids to do what’s right? Hmmmm…..
Please take our poll so we can find out what our readers think about this.
After you vote, click here and give us your comments, and see what others are saying about this somewhat controversial scientific recommendation. Thanks for participating!
– By Cherie Boldt