Why do kids hate eating fruit but love eating snacks like French fries? Is it the small convenient size versus the full fruit? Does the packaging make a difference?
Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab researchers Brian Wansink, David Just, Andrew Hanks, and Laura Smith tried to examine the reasons for this aversion to fruit among kids.
The team went about in two stages. In the first stage, they visited eight elementary schools within a district. They gave each school cafeteria a commercial fruit slicer and asked the person to slice the apples when students asked for apples. They talked to the students to find out why they did not like to eat fruit. The reasons were quite innocuous:
- For kids who were young, they had braces or their teeth were missing and size of a whole fruit was making it difficult to eat
- Girls, especially the older ones, found it weird to open their mouth so wide to eat a whole fruit
In these schools, 61 per cent more fruits were eaten as compared to times when they were served full.
The team went into the second stage so as to confirm these preliminary findings. They went to six more schools in this same district. Three of the schools got fruit slicers, while three continued normal cafeteria operations. To assess presentation, two schools served the slices in cups where as one school served the slices in a tray. Also, a kid who buys six slices of the fruit may not eat all the six slices, and trash away some of them. To check how many fruits were truly eaten, the team employed volunteers who recorded how many slices were thrown away by each student.
After collating all numbers, analysis revealed that the apple sales in schools with fruit slicers increased by 71 per cent in comparison to schools that did not have slicers. Also, students who ate more than half of their apple increased by 73 per cent.
This study clearly proves that making fruit look attractive and easier to eat gets more children to choose it and also to eat more of it.
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