Increasing consumption of fruits and vegetables in the school cafeteria: the influence of active choice

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Hakim, Sharon M.
Meissen, Gregory J.

Sharon M. Hakim. and Gregory Meissen. 2013. "Increasing Consumption of Fruits and Vegetables in the School Cafeteria: The Influence of Active Choice." Journal of Health Care for the Poor and Underserved, Volume 24, Number 2, May 2013, Supplement, pp. 145-157


This study evaluated a setting-level intervention designed to increase consumption of fruits and vegetables among low-socioeconomic status elementary and middle school students participating in the National School Lunch Program (NSLP). The NSLP provides students with access to fruits and vegetables; however, food served does not necessarily equal food consumed. High rates of waste, especially of fruits and vegetables, are well documented. The current, low-cost intervention altered the choice architecture of the cafeteria by introducing an active, forced choice into the school lunch service. Consumption was measured by observing (n=2,064) and weighing (n=84) student plate waste over two 10-day periods pre-intervention and during implementation. Results show an average daily 15% increase in consumption of both fruits and vegetables during the intervention period. These findings suggest that local schools can actively encourage students to take advantage of fruits and vegetables offered through the NSLP by implementing setting-level changes to the cafeteria environment.

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