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Changing Eating Habits - A Field Experiment in Primary Schools

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Abstract

We conduct a field experiment in 31 primary schools in England to test whether incentives to eat fruit and vegetables help children develop healthier habits. The intervention consists of rewarding children with stickers and little gifts for a period of four weeks for choosing a portion of fruit and vegetables at lunch. We compare the effects of two incentive schemes (competition and piece rate) on choices and consumption over the course of the intervention as well as once the incentives are removed and six months later. We find that the intervention had positive effects, but the effects vary substantially according to age and gender. However, we find little evidence of sustained long term effects, except for the children from poorer socio-economic backgrounds.

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  • Michele Belot & Jonathan James & Patrick Nolen, 2013. "Changing Eating Habits - A Field Experiment in Primary Schools," Edinburgh School of Economics Discussion Paper Series 219, Edinburgh School of Economics, University of Edinburgh.
  • Handle: RePEc:edn:esedps:219
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    File URL: http://www.econ.ed.ac.uk/papers/id219_esedps.pdf
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    1. Uri Gneezy & Stephan Meier & Pedro Rey-Biel, 2011. "When and Why Incentives (Don't) Work to Modify Behavior," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 25(4), pages 191-210, Fall.
    2. Belot, Michèle & James, Jonathan, 2011. "Healthy school meals and educational outcomes," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 30(3), pages 489-504, May.
    3. Loewenstein, George & Thaler, Richard H, 1989. "Intertemporal Choice," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 3(4), pages 181-193, Fall.
    4. Rachel Croson & Uri Gneezy, 2009. "Gender Differences in Preferences," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 47(2), pages 448-474, June.
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    Blog mentions

    As found by EconAcademics.org, the blog aggregator for Economics research:
    1. #HEJC papers for September 2013
      by academichealtheconomists in The Academic Health Economists' Blog on 2013-09-01 04:01:38

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    Cited by:

    1. John A. List & Anya Samek, 2017. "A Field Experiment on the Impact of Incentives on Milk Choice in the Lunchroom," Public Finance Review, , vol. 45(1), pages 44-67, January.
    2. Angelucci, Manuela & Prina, Silvia & Royer, Heather & Samek, Anya, 2015. "When Incentives Backfire: Spillover Effects in Food Choice," IZA Discussion Papers 9288, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
    3. Toni Mora & Beatriz G. Lopez‐Valcarcel, 2018. "Breakfast choice: An experiment combining a nutritional training workshop targeting adolescents and the promotion of unhealthy products," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 27(2), pages 306-319, February.
    4. Saied Toossi, 2016. "Incentivizing Healthy Eating in Children: An Investigation of the “Ripple” and “Temporal” Effects of Reward-Based Interventions," Center for Policy Research Working Papers 193, Center for Policy Research, Maxwell School, Syracuse University.
    5. John A. List & Anya Samek & Terri Zhu, 2022. "Incentives to Eat Healthily: Evidence from a Grocery Store Field Experiment," Economica, London School of Economics and Political Science, vol. 89(354), pages 489-509, April.
    6. Rachel Griffith & Sarah Smith & Stephanie von Hinke Kessler Scholder, 2014. "Getting a healthy start? Nudge versus economic incentives," The Centre for Market and Public Organisation 14/328, The Centre for Market and Public Organisation, University of Bristol, UK.
    7. Loewenstein, George & Price, Joseph & Volpp, Kevin, 2016. "Habit formation in children: Evidence from incentives for healthy eating," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 45(C), pages 47-54.
    8. repec:bri:cmpowp:13/328 is not listed on IDEAS
    9. 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.
    10. David Frisvold & Emily Leslie & Joseph P. Price, 2020. "Do Targeted Vouchers Instill Habits? Evidence From Women, Infants, And Children," Contemporary Economic Policy, Western Economic Association International, vol. 38(1), pages 67-80, January.
    11. Andres Silva & Lindsey M. Higgins & Micaela M. Kulesz, 2016. "Nutritional Impact of Child-Directed TV Food Advertising Regulation: Are We Rearranging the Deck Chairs on the Titanic?," Journal of the Association for Consumer Research, University of Chicago Press, vol. 1(3), pages 422-444.

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    More about this item

    Keywords

    incentives; health; habits; child nutrition; field experiment;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • J13 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Demographic Economics - - - Fertility; Family Planning; Child Care; Children; Youth
    • I18 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health - - - Government Policy; Regulation; Public Health
    • I28 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Education - - - Government Policy
    • H51 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Health
    • H52 - Public Economics - - National Government Expenditures and Related Policies - - - Government Expenditures and Education

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