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How an allowance may influence better food choices

For better or for worse, over time the kind of food allowed to be shared on school grounds has evolved.  For example, some schools have initiated allergy tables for students who have food allergies or sensitivities; others have imposed rules to eliminate peanut butter in the lunch room all together by creating a “Peanut Free Zone”.  Regarding birthdays, some schools have limited the celebration to once per month in order to limit sugary snack overload week after week, while others do not allow cupcakes or cookies but rather encourage fruit based treats for the same reason.  But what would happen if children were left to make their own food choices?  Would they make healthful selections if allowed to go to the snack cart on their own?  Researchers from Tufts University were determined to find out.

Their study, published in Appetite, looked into how 8-11 year old children would spend their money, without adult influences, when it came to snack time.  As part of a series of surveys and cognitive tests researchers presented 116 children with options of apples, yogurt or cookies of different brands and cost.  Children were told that one of their choices would be selected at random at the end of the survey, and they would have to buy it with the two dollars they were given as part of compensation for testing.

Maybe unsurprisingly, they found that choices were made based on food type, with cookies chosen most frequently, followed by apples.  What was unexpected though, was they found that having experience with an allowance at home made children pay attention to the price of the snack suggesting that healthy food choices could be influenced by making certain options more affordable.  

If you’d prefer to pack snacks for school, peanut butter lovers can try our Banana Peanut Spread.  On the more savory side, yet still dip-able we suggest our Spinach-Avocado Hummus.

Published September 1, 2018

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