Getting students to actually select and eat the healthy options offered during lunch may seem like a daunting task, but the mere layout of a lunchroom can nudge students towards healthy choices.
The secret lies in the ability to influence choice without restricting it—a behavioral science principle known as “Libertarian Paternalism”—or less formally as “nudging.” To influence students’ food selection, researchers performed “Smarter Lunchroom Makeovers” in a few New York state school cafeterias to encourage the sale of fruits and vegetables without forcing them on students. After only 3 hours and less than $50 spent revamping the lunch lines, the following changes occurred:
The Smarter Lunchroom Makeovers focused on simple low-cost and no-cost lunchroom upgrades that improved the appeal of fruits and vegetables by improving 3 areas: their Convenience, Attractiveness, and Normativeness (the degree to which the choice is seen as the normal, default option).
Do you want to implement changes and see results in your own school cafeteria?
Focus on these same 3 areas:
Kelsey Gatto, Cornell University Food and Brand Lab
Hanks, A.S., Just, D.R., & Wansink, B. (2013). "Smarter lunchrooms can address new school lunchroom guidelines and childhood obesity." The Journal of Pediatrics, 162(4): 867-869.