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Nutrition report card could help kids make better lunch choices

Kids can learn to choose more fresh fruits

Kids can learn to choose more fresh fruits and vegetables. Credit: iStock

What if your child got a nutrition report card in addition to an academic one? Would it help improve the child’s eating habits?

A new Cornell University study suggests that such report cards might nudge children toward more healthy options, according to Cornell behavioral economists Brian Wansink and David Just.

Many school districts use a payment system in which students use a special debit card to pay for food items, so their choices can be easily tracked. In a pilot study, parents signed up to receive an electronic nutrition report card detailing what their children chose.

The researchers found that some parents then adjusted family dinners to include more nutritious foods, and some discussed the importance of healthful choices to their kids. The study also showed that students whose parents received the nutrition report cards selected fruits and vegetables more frequently and flavored milk less frequently than the control group.

Such report cards could be especially beneficial to younger children learning to make independent food decisions, the researchers say.

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