Want Kids to Eat More Fruit? Just Move the Bowl.


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  23 comments   :  13,643 Views

When I was in high school, there was an area of the cafeteria called the “Ho Ho Room”.  It was full of candy, cookies, ice cream and any other treat you might want for lunch.  I’m not sure if the Ho Ho Room still exists, but it was always a popular destination for those looking for something sweet to go with their meal.  When I was that age, the idea of eating fruit as the sweet part of the meal never even occurred to me.  But maybe it would have if the fruit were in a different part of the cafeteria.  A new study showed that moving the fruit bowl to a different spot increased fruit consumption by over 100%.
The study, conducted by researchers at Cornell’s Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs, looked at school cafeterias and where their fruit was located.  In three schools, fruit was in stainless steel bowls under a sneeze guard, making it difficult to see.  By putting the fruit in better looking bowls near the cash register (in the area where kids are most likely to wait when there is a line), they were able to increase purchases by a whopping 103%, far exceeding expectations.  Kids were much more likely to buy when they spent time looking at the fruit and its pleasant presentation. 
According to researchers, “previous studies have found that simple steps, such as closing the lid on ice cream freezers, can significantly reduce the number of students choosing ice cream. They've also found that introducing a salad bar can help schools increase school lunch participation.”  Other studies have looked at lighting in the cafeteria to see how that affects choices.  Techniques like these have been successfully used in grocery stores, and now might be applied to a slightly different audience. 
To be fair, it’s not clear how many children on average were eating the fruit before the study began.  If five pieces were purchased per day and now the number is 10, that’s probably still a very small percentage of the total number of kids buying food in the cafeteria.  On the other hand, it’s five more kids than were eating fruit before, and it was a simple and easy change to implement. Sometimes a little creativity can go a long way.
What do you think?

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  • 23
    my kids eat more fruit at grandaddy's house where it's left in a basket on the island, rather than our house where i prefer to have nice, cold, juicy apples than those left out at room temperature. but, whatever works! bananas, the only fruit not in the fridge, barely lasts the day in our house lol - 1/20/2012   10:19:00 AM
  • 22
    I agree with a previous poster - I prefer my fruit cold! But maybe leaving it out like that would help me (and the rest of my family) think of it more, even if I walked into the kitchen to get a colder piece? :) - 1/20/2012   8:08:42 AM
  • 21
    yes I find when I put the bowl on the table in the diningroom less fruit is eaten than when I leave it on the counter in the kitchen. Weird because you have to pass the diningroom to get to the kitchen but whatever works!!! - 11/19/2011   11:47:43 AM
  • 20
    My mother use to keep the fruit in a bowl on the table. Us kids gobbled it up. I don't like to keep my fruit out because I prefer it cold. - 11/13/2011   9:23:46 PM
  • 19
    Well I just ate some fruit after moving my fruit bowl, lol. Works for me. - 11/13/2011   2:33:14 PM
  • 18
    One of the my favorite things about my fridge is that it has clear fruit and veggie bins at my kids' eye levels (well, they're taller now, but...). I make sure baby carrots, apples, oranges---you name it---are within view to tempt them. I switch things up to make it more appealing, too. Definitely works.

    Nobody notices what's there all the time---you have to switch things around. - 11/13/2011   12:08:07 AM
  • 17
    I think most people are more likely to eat fruit if it is accessible, washed and in plain view. I keep some on my table and in the fridge. If it is in the fridge only, I forget it is there. - 11/12/2011   11:15:57 PM
    I try my best to only offer fruit as a snack for my granddaughter. - 11/12/2011   6:19:22 PM
  • 15
    I notice when I have our fruit in a bowl on the dining table, Me and any children here are likely to reach for a fruit snack- for sure! - 11/12/2011   5:52:22 PM
  • 14
    I don't remember ever having a choice when I was going to school. You had one main thing each day. Salads and fruit didn't exist. I think the idea of putting the fruit in a nice bowl by the register is a great idea. I have a nice Tupperware bowl (not one of the plain storage ones) that I plan to put my fruit in on the table as soon as I can get things figured out in there. - 11/12/2011   3:11:03 PM
  • 13
    Schools need to leave out the sugary unhealthy foods and keep the fresh and healthy in. If it is not there, they will not choose it, and fresh and healthy is cheaper than all that other garbage. - 11/12/2011   12:46:55 PM
  • CICELY360
    I'm glad I never have to use tricks to get my daughter to eat fruits. - 11/12/2011   12:34:30 PM
    Great article and I could not agree more. I keep fresh fruit on a pretty platter right on the kitchen table and everyone just grabs fruit for a quick snack and even for dessert. I also notice it more at places like Whole foods and Uwajimaya - the fruit and veggies take center stage when you walk into stores like that and it's all so appealing! - 11/12/2011   11:51:13 AM
  • 10
    works in the home, too. A friend of mine always has fresh fruit on the counter, ready to eat! Great variety and she keeps it on a multi-level petit fours tray for better visibility, better access to each item and better keeping. If larger quantities needs to be kept in the fridge for freshness, still keep some out - it's way better to eat it when it's not too cold. Quick access also means it's less likely to be forgotten in the depths of the crisper. (^_^)

    If possible, buy less and make more trips to the store - if you're out daily for work, etc. anyway, why not!?! If you just can't use things up fast enough, cut it up and freeze it for baking or smoothies. For me, walking to the store is part of my walking routine! I go about two miles at about 15 minutes per mile. :-) A half hour out of my day when I need the exercise time and the healthier food anyway. I know, I didn't always live this close to a store. That's when I had a garden to burn off my calories! LOL - 11/12/2011   10:28:21 AM
  • 9
    Glad that I offered sliced veggies (red & green peppers) for lunch snacks and also fruit for my kids. They did love fruit for snacking then and now. :D - 11/11/2011   10:17:51 PM
  • 8
    I use to buy fruit and put a sign on it in the frig "MOM'S DIET FOOD: DO NOT EAT". Of course, they HAD to eat it since it was mine. - 11/11/2011   5:54:16 PM
  • 7
    When I think of cafeteria fruit, I think of mushy apples, hard-to-peel oranges, and green bananas - not exactly appealing. I remember having giant pretzels and chocolate milk for lunch when I was a kid buying from the school cafeteria. - 11/11/2011   2:04:33 PM
  • 6
    My kids reach for fruit as snacks and treats. - 11/11/2011   1:57:18 PM
  • 5
    Last time my grandson came to visit I had just made cookies. Don't get to see him often so thought would make him a treat. He took a cookie but immediately put it back when he saw apples on the counter. Another favorite snack is carrots - 11/11/2011   1:04:58 PM
  • 4
    Last time my grandson came to visit I had just made his dad's favorite cookies (monster cookies). Ky had just picked up a cookie when he spotted apples on the cabinet. He immediately put down the cookie and grabbed an apple. His other favorite snack food is carrots. - 11/11/2011   12:44:35 PM
  • 3
    Last time my grandson came to visit I had just made his dad's favorite cookies (monster cookies). Ky had just picked up a cookie when he spotted apples on the cabinet. He immediately put down the cookie and grabbed an apple. His other favorite snack food is carrots. - 11/11/2011   12:44:34 PM
  • 2
    When I was in high school there was a salad bar line and a hot lunch line. The salad bar line was always the longest and the food presentation was prettier. There is a lot of merit to the studies in the above blog. - 11/11/2011   12:16:27 PM
  • 1
    My kids have always loved to eat fruit & my grandkids are the same. These are great ideas too for making eating fruit fun. - 11/11/2011   10:33:16 AM

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