Getting schooled on kids’ health

Getting kids to eat more fruits and veggies often feels like such a challenge it should be an Olympic sport. However, more time and effort is being spent than ever before trying to ease the struggle and many of the strategies are working!

For instance, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has been ramping up their Fresh Fruit and Vegetable Program (FFVP), which helps students learn more about healthful eating habits and introduces them to a variety of produce. Studies have shown the program has been very effective. Children in participating elementary schools ate 15% more fruits and veggies, and nearly all students tried the healthy snacks provided (97% for fruit, 84% for veggies).School kid offering apple

The USDA doesn’t stop there; programs aimed at feeding low-income children healthy foods during the summer provided 161 million meals last year! Among other great initiatives, this year they’re introducing new “Smart Snacks in School” standards which will ensure school vending machines and snack bars contain healthy choices like fruits and veggies.

There are global initiatives aimed at helping kids eat better, too, with the World Health Organization calling for tighter restrictions on the marketing of unhealthy foods (e.g., high levels of fat, sugar or salt) to children. This is particularly important because, unfortunately, marketing unhealthy foods to children has proven to be “disastrously effective” since kids are “particularly receptive and vulnerable to messages that lead to unhealthy choices.”

Fortunately, the fact that kids are so receptive works both ways, and there are plenty of strategies that can motivate kids to grab an apple instead of an unhealthy alternative. The numbers from these recent studies don’t lie:

  • By simply branding apples with a cartoon sticker, such as Elmo, kids chose apples over cookies nearly twice as often!
  • Simply placing produce in more convenient and attractive locations in the lunchroom boosted consumption by 18-25%.
  • When children were offered produce previously rejected/disliked with a healthy dip, they’d eat it 64% of the time instead of 31% without dip.
  • Cornell University found that by offering apples in schools pre-sliced instead of whole, sales increased by 71% and the percentage of students who ate more than half the apple increased by 73%!

This is great information to know, especially since they’re relatively easy strategies. Looking specifically at apples, there are still some hurdles to overcome, though. Kids may pick an apple because of a sticker, but will they eat it if it looks bruised or brown? And pre-sliced apples and dips are great, but we all know how fast a sliced apple discolors – okay, we know we’re transparent, but we’re honest, too!

Nonbrowning Arctic® apples can make eating apples more fun, convenient  and tastier than ever, helping teachers and parents alike in their never ending quest to feed kids’ the healthiest food possible – that’s the Arctic Advantage™!

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About Joel Brooks

Growing up in the Okanagan Valley, Joel had the opportunity to experience apple growing first hand, a background that helped lead him to his role as Product & Special Projects Manager. Joel feels privileged to work with such great people towards a goal that’s so easy to get behind – helping people to eat more apples!