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Incentive healthy eating for children, study claims

Author Damien Wilde
Posted On 14th October 2014

school-tray-clip-resizAs parents, we know that it can sometimes be slightly problematic to get children to eat a varied and balanced diet.

Some take to their greens like the proverbial duck to water whilst others view fresh fruit and vegetables with a slightly more sceptic eye.

However researchers from the University of Edinburgh believe that if you play to a youngsters’ competitive streak, children are more likely to eat greens.

According to a recent study, the Scottish-based scientists found that primary school children consumed a third more ‘healthy options’ if mealtimes involved some kind of game.

The results were drawn up from over six hundred pupils who attended over thirty English schools. All the children were aged between six and ten years of age.

Children were offered stickers in return for bringing in a portion of fruit and vegetables from home, or if they bought one at lunchtime. Some groups were also further incentivised with the prospect of a further reward, dependent upon the number of stickers collected over the course of a week.

There was also a control group that were not offered any prizes for eating well.

After a period of time, the researchers had a look over the results they found that there was a distinct trend that indicated that offering pupils incentives, rewards and accolades had a positive impact upon the consumption of fruit and vegetables.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the team also noted that eating habits did differ depending on the child’s background, age and gender.

It also installed a new blueprint for the infants. Professor Michelle Belot, of Edinburgh University, said that “a week after we removed the incentive scheme, it continued of most groups of children.

“We came back after six months and we didn’t see any backfiring [which] we were quite concerned [about].”

Extra recreational time or fun Fridays, what would you use for motivation?