Americans still fall short of the recommended daily portions of fruits and vegetables. And kids are notoriously averse to veggies at the school cafeteria. So researchers tested whether visual cues of healthful foods could increase consumption at a grade school with 800 students.
First the scientists determined how many kids put carrots and green beans on their trays and how much they ate. Three months later they did the same analysis. But on the second day, the trays had pictures of carrots and green beans in the trays’ compartments.
On the day with the photo cues, more than twice as many kids took green beans as on the control day, and more than three times as many kids took carrots. Average consumption per student went up as well. The study was published in The Journal of the American Medical Association. [Marla Reicks et al., "Photographs in Lunch Tray Compartments and Vegetable Consumption Among Children in Elementary School Cafeterias"]
The researchers note that the effect needs to be tested elsewhere for longer than two days. And the amount of veggies eaten still didn’t meet government recommendations. But if pictures of burgers can sell meaty meals, maybe fresh fruit and veggie food photos can play a part in the campaign for healthier kids.
[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]