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The behavioralist as nutritionist: Leveraging behavioral economics to improve child food choice and consumption

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  • List, John A.
  • Samek, Anya Savikhin

Abstract

We leverage behavioral economics to explore new approaches to tackling child food choice and consumption. Using a field experiment with >1500 children, we report several key insights. We find that incentives have large influences: in the control, 17% of children prefer the healthy snack, whereas introduction of small incentives increases take-up of the healthy snack to ∼75%. There is some evidence that the effects continue post-treatment, consistent with a model of habit formation. We find little evidence that the framing of incentives (loss vs. gain) matters. Educational messaging alone has little effect, but we observe a combined effect of messaging and incentives: together they provide an important influence on food choice.

Suggested Citation

  • List, John A. & Samek, Anya Savikhin, 2015. "The behavioralist as nutritionist: Leveraging behavioral economics to improve child food choice and consumption," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 39(C), pages 135-146.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:jhecon:v:39:y:2015:i:c:p:135-146
    DOI: 10.1016/j.jhealeco.2014.11.002
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Field experiment; Food choice; Child behavior; Incentives; Educational messages;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • C72 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Game Theory and Bargaining Theory - - - Noncooperative Games
    • C91 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Design of Experiments - - - Laboratory, Individual Behavior

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