HEALTHY LIVING

How To Get Kids To Choose Healthy Food

09/30/2011 01:44 pm ET | Updated Nov 30, 2011

Getting kids to choose healthy options at school could be as easy as changing how those options are presented.

Cornell University researchers found that putting fruit in a colorful bowl more than doubles fruit sales in schools.

The finding is just one of the changes being suggested by the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in Child Nutrition Programs (also known as BEN) for making school lunchrooms healthier. Cornell professor Brian Wansink, an expert in behavior and food, and his colleagues analyzed lunchroom layouts to see what impacts a kid's food decision-making process.

The lunchrooms were revamped with easy, low-cost/no-cost environmental changes that resulted in an increase in healthy food choices, and schools are working with researchers and policymakers to make important high-level decisions that impact healthy food environments nationwide, Wansink said.

Other findings from Cornell for making lunchrooms smarter include making cereal bowls smaller to reduce serving sizes, making an express checkout line for students if they're buying healthy foods and moving chocolate milk behind plain milk so that kids will choose plain milk, ScienceDaily reports.

Wansink, author of the book "Mindless Eating," has researched a number of other small changes that could impact how much we eat. Among them are stowing away tempting foods, alternating water for every other drink and walking to get candy from a candy dish, instead of having it on your desk, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The arrangement of food in your cabinet is another factor (what you see first is what you eat first, research has found), as is the environment in which you eat. (Research shows that regular popcorn-eaters who were given stale popcorn at a movie theater ate just as much of the popcorn as people given fresh popcorn. However, people who didn't usually eat popcorn at the movies ate less stale popcorn than fresh popcorn.)

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