Nutrition report cards receive high marks in pilot program

December 13, 2013

ITHACA, N.Y. - Parents receiving academic report cards throughout the school year is commonplace, but a new Cornell University study shows that for healthier nutrition, parents should opt to receive a nutrition report card, too.

"This pilot study underscores that a nutrition report card is feasible and efficient... Although the results are preliminary, they suggest that [nutrition report cards] may be helpful in nudging children toward more healthy, less expensive options ... at little cost to the school district," according to Cornell behavioral economists Brian Wansink and David Just.

Many school districts utilize a payment system where students use a specialized debit-card to pay for the meal after specific food items are keyed into a smart cash register, allowing for items purchased and name of the student to be easily tracked. For example, if a student buys hot lunch and an ice cream sandwich, the cash register records the purchases. In the pilot study, parents who previously signed up to receive an electronic nutrition report card would then receive a report detailing what their child eats periodically.

The researchers found that after receiving nutrition report cards, some parents adjusted family dinner meals to include more nutritious food, and some parents used the opportunity to discuss the importance of health and nutrition with their kids. Other parents learned why the child's cafeteria money account was depleted so rapidly.

Students whose parents received the nutrition report cards selected fruits and vegetables more frequently, and they selected flavored milk less frequently than the control group.

After the research, in open-ended responses, parents expressed appreciation for knowing what their children ate. One parent responded: "I like seeing the snacks they purchased. It made me understand why my one son was always out of money on his account."

Nutrition report cards have the feature of engaging parents in their child's decision-making process. This could be especially beneficial to younger children, who are learning to make independent food decisions, say the researchers.

The study, "Nutrition Report Cards: An Opportunity to Improve School Lunch Selection," was published in PLOS ONE. Richard W. Patterson, Cornell doctoral candidate in policy analysis and management, and Laura E. Smith, Cornell doctoral candidate in nutritional sciences, were co-authors with Wansink and Just. The research was funded through an USDA/Economic Research Service grant.
-end-
Cornell University has television and ISDN radio studios available for media interviews.

Cornell University

Related Nutrition Articles from Brightsurf:

Here's how to improve packaged foods nutrition
FOP nutrition labeling results in a significant improvement in the nutritional quality of food products.

'Front of package' nutrition labels improved nutrition quality
A new study analyzing 16 years of data on tens of thousands of products finds that the adoption of nutrition data on ''front of package'' labels is associated with improved nutritional content of those foods and their competitors.

Aquaculture's role in nutrition in the COVID-19 era
A new paper from American University examines the economics of an aquaculture industry of the future that is simultaneously environmentally sustainable and nutritious for the nearly 1 billion people worldwide who depend on it.

Fathers are more likely to be referred for nutrition or exercise counseling
Fatherhood status has been linked to medical providers' weight-related practices or counseling referrals.

Refugee children get better health, nutrition via e-vouchers
Electronic food vouchers provided young Rohingya children in Bangladeshi refugee camps with better health and nutrition than direct food assistance, according to new research led by Cornell University, in conjunction with the International Food Policy Research Institute.

Leaders call for 'Moonshot' on nutrition research
Leading nutrition and food policy experts outline a bold case for strengthening federal nutrition research in a live interactive session as part of NUTRITION 2020 LIVE ONLINE, a virtual conference hosted by the American Society for Nutrition (ASN).

Featured research from NUTRITION 2020 LIVE ONLINE
Press materials are now available for NUTRITION 2020 LIVE ONLINE, a dynamic virtual event showcasing new research findings and timely discussions on food and nutrition.

Diet, nutrition have profound effects on gut microbiome
A new literature review from scientists at George Washington University and the National Institute of Standards and Technology suggests that nutrition and diet have a profound impact on the microbial composition of the gut.

Are women getting adequate nutrition during preconception and pregnancy?
In a Maternal & Child Nutrition analysis of published studies on the dietary habits of women who were trying to conceive or were pregnant, most studies indicated that women do not meet nutritional recommendations for vegetable, cereal grain, or folate intake.

Supermarkets and child nutrition in Africa
Hunger and undernutrition are widespread problems in Africa. At the same time, overweight, obesity, and related chronic diseases are also on the rise.

Read More: Nutrition News and Nutrition Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.