Determining the Effectiveness of a Behavioral Economics Cafeteria Intervention at Big Walnut High School Designed to Improve Healthfulness of Student Purchases
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Publisher:The Ohio State University
Series/Report no.:The Ohio State University. Department of Human Nutrition Honors Theses; 2013
Millions of U.S. children eat breakfast and lunch daily in the school cafeteria. The food choices children make in the cafeteria influence their diet, health, and well being. Behavioral economics uses cognitive and emotional factors to influence decision-making. Applying behavioral economics strategies in the cafeteria to improve the healthfulness of student food choices includes strategies such as: product placement (e.g., displaying milk with other beverages), signage/promotions to direct students to targeted items, and training servers to suggest healthy items. The Smarter Lunchrooms Movement, developed by researchers at Cornell University, aims to encourage healthy eating habits in children by using behavioral economics techniques to aid them in making better choices in the cafeteria. The primary aim of this study is to: 1) conduct a baseline assessment of the cafeteria environment at a local high school (Big Walnut, Columbus OH); and 2) design and test an intervention to enhance the purchase and sales of healthy foods and reimbursable lunches using the Smarter Lunchrooms Movement evaluation process. To achieve this goal, we will conduct a cafeteria assessment at 3 time points: pre-intervention (2 weeks), baseline, and post intervention (2 weeks). Each lunch period will be assessed using production records, sales, direct observation, and student surveys. During the pre-intervention assessment, targeted areas for impact will be identified with the food service director (FSD) and one intervention goal and strategy will be selected. Expected findings based on previous Smarter Lunchrooms Movement research include an increase in sales of fruits, vegetables, and reimbursable meals. This study is funded by the Ohio Department of Education Team Nutrition grant.
Academic Major: Human Nutrition
This study is funded by the Ohio Department of Education Team Nutrition grant.
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