Using Incentives to Encourage Healthy Eating in Children

David Just Cornell University
Joseph Price Brigham Young University   

We use data from a field experiment at 15 elementary schools to examine effective incentives that increase the fraction of children eating a serving of fruit or vegetable as part of their school lunch. We were able to raise the fraction of children eating fruits or vegetables at lunch by 27.3 percentage points (an 80% increase) by providing a small incentive. The incentives also reduced the fraction of fruits and vegetables being thrown away by 43%. Our results indicate that small incentives can dramatically increase fruit and vegetable consumption during school lunch. Incentives also increase the cost effectiveness of the money schools are already spending on fruits and vegetables by increasing the fraction of those items that actually get consumed.

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