USING NUTRITIONAL LABELING WITH PREORDERING METHODS TO INFLUENCE STUDENT ENTREE SELECTION
Graham, Hope E.
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Children learn about foods and eating habits at an early age (Birch and Fisher, 1998). The school cafeteria is an ideal place to provide healthy food options, as 70 percent of kindergarten through 12th grade children eat a school lunch approximately three times a week (Hanks et al., 2012). Schools have used electronic preordering systems to help students choose healthier entrées in the lunchroom thus eliminating the sensory cues, which may influence entrée selection. Initial findings have shown advantageous results, as 29.4 percent of students chose healthier entrées versus 15.3 percent of students who had no preordering system (Hanks, Just, and Wansink, 2013). Preordering aids in eliminating the sensory cues which may influence lunch choices. Within this study, low cost preordering methods are coupled with nutritional information in an elementary school setting. Results indicate that the presence of nutritional labeling had negligible influence on entrée selection. Across days in which identical entrées were available, older grades (3rd and 4th) increased consumption of healthier entrées 50 percent of the time, while grades Kindergarten and 1st showed no clear indication to order healthier entrées. Further research is merited to determine alternative methods in which entrée selection can be positively impacted.