Marketing in school cafeterias to increase vegetable uptake


A study by Hanks, Just and Brumberg published in July 2016 in the journal Pediatrics looks at the influence food marketing has on children’s vegetable consumption.

Four conditions tested in 10 American elementary schools had the following effects:

  • Use of a banner fastened around the base of the salad bar and displaying comic strip vegetable characters with superpowers increased the proportion of children who took vegetables from the salad bar from 12.6% to 24% (90.5%).
  • Presentation of short educational videoshosted by vegetable characters did not produce a significant increase in the children’s vegetable consumption.
  • The combination of the banner and educational videos triggered a 10.2% to 34.6% rise.
  • No intervention was conducted in other schools (control group).

The results show that the combination of the banner and videos had the most significant effect in increasing the children’s vegetable consumption. This research illustrates the extent to which marketing, especially the use of branded characters, can promote the choice of vegetables by children in school cafeterias. The authors suggest schools use these supports to encourage students to make healthier choices.

Andrew S. Hanks, David R. Just, Adam Brumberg, Marketing Vegetables in Elementary School Cafeterias to Increase Uptake, Pediatrics (2016), Volume 138, number 2  :e 20151720