Nutrition Report Cards Receive High Marks in Pilot Program
A Cornell University pilot test shows that for healthier nutrition, parents should opt to receive a nutrition report card, in addition to their child’s academic report card. Led by Cornell behavioral economists Brian Wansink and David Just, the pilot, published in the October 2013 volume of PLOS ONE, found that kids’ nutrition report cards “may be helpful in nudging children toward more healthy, less expensive options … at little cost to the school district.”
Many school districts operate payment systems through which students use a specialized debit card to pay for their meal after specific food items are keyed into a smart cash register, allowing for items purchased and the name of the student who purchased them to be easily tracked.
The researchers found that some parents, after receiving periodic nutrition report cards detailing what their kids ate at school, adjusted family dinner meals to include more nutritious food. Many of those parents also used the opportunity to discuss the importance of health and nutrition with their kids. Students whose parents received the nutrition report cards selected fruits and vegetables more frequently and flavored milk less frequently than the control group.
Learn more about the pilot at plosone.org (search for “nutrition report cards”).
Katherine Kopp is a freelance writer and editor in Chapel Hill.