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Behavioral Economic Concepts To Encourage Healthy Eating in School Cafeterias: Experiments and Lessons From College Students

by David R Just, Brian Wansink, Lisa Mancino, and Joanne Guthrie

Economic Research Report No. (ERR -68) 28 pp, December 2008

Cover image for ERS report "Behavioral Economic Concepts To Encourage Healthy Eating in School Cafeterias: Experiments and Lessons From College Students" (ERR-68)
Changing small factors that influence consumer choice may lead to healthier eating within controlled settings, such as school cafeterias. This report describes a behavioral experiment in a college cafeteria to assess the effects of various payment options and menu selection methods on food choices. The results indicate that payment options, such as cash or debit cards, can significantly affect food choices. College students using a card that prepaid only for healthful foods made more nutritious choices than students using either cash or general debit cards. How and when individuals select their food can also influence food choices. College students who preselected their meals from a menu board made significantly different food choices than students who ordered their meals while viewing the foods in line.

Keywords: Behavioral economics, healthy eating, diet quality, food choices, school meal programs, experimental economics

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Last updated: Sunday, May 27, 2012

For more information contact: David R Just, Brian Wansink, Lisa Mancino, and Joanne Guthrie

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