Kids more likely to eat sliced fruit
Sales of apples in US primary schools jumped by an average of 71 per cent when the fruit was sold in sliced form, according to research published in the May issue of the American Journal of Preventative Medicine.
Researchers at the Cornell University Centre for Behavioural Economics in Child Nutrition Programs (BEN Centre) in New York first conducted a pilot study, asking schools to use a commercial fruit slicer whenever students requested apples. The machine cut the fruit into six pieces in three to four seconds.
Researchers then repeated the study a second time, including three ‘control’ schools, which did not slice apples for students. In the secondary study, researchers assessed the actual consumption of the fruit by recording how many slices of the apple each student threw away.
In the secondary study, 73 per cent of students at the schools which were slicing fruit ate more than half of their apple, compared with the control schools.
“This study shows that making fruit easier to eat encourages children to select it and to eat more of it,” Professor Wansink said. “With an initial investment of just $200, fruit slicers constitute a means for school cafeterias not only to encourage fruit consumption among students but also to prevent food waste,” he said.
Slicing the fruit worked so well because children prefer to eat fruit in bit-sized pieces, said Professor Brian Wansink, lead author of the study and co-director of the BEN Centre. He suggested that children might dislike eating whole fruit because braces or missing teeth, or because large fruit is inconvenient.
The study was co-authored by associate professor David Just, co-director of the BEN Centre, postdoctoral research fellow Andrew Hanks and doctoral student Laura Smith. The research was funded in part by the US Department of Agriculture.