The findings of a new study have revealed how creating smiley faces on health foods and meals can encourage kids to have more of these nutritious meals.
The study, which is now presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting in San Diego, CA, found 62% increase in the purchase of vegetables, and 20% increase in fruit purchases all thanks to this new approach.
For the study, the researchers attempted to improve the quality of school lunches, make them more nutritious, and at the same time, also make them appealing for children. They designed a 2 phase intervention including students from kindergarten to the sixth grade.
In the first phase, they labeled healthy foods such as fat free milk, vegetables, fruits and whole grains with smiley faces, and then introduced them to a meal with all these foods and a small freebie such as a small beach ball, a sticker or a temporary tattoo- aka the ‘Power Plate.’
After the first phase, the researchers found that the purchase of milk increased from 7.4% to 48%, the sales of fruits and vegetables rose by 20% and 62% respectively, and the sales of chocolate milk actually dropped.
The researchers also noted 335% increase in the selection of the Power Plate.
“It looks like we found a very promising, low-cost and effective way of improving the nutrition of elementary school children. This type of program may be a useful component in schools trying to improve the nutrition and health of their students,” the researchers explained.
Hopefully, these new findings may encourage more school settings to try these simple interventions and provide more nutritious meals to children, which could also help deal with the childhood obesity epidemic hitting certain nations of the world.