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Children More Likely to Eat Sliced Fruits

Update Date: Apr 18, 2013 08:41 AM EDT

How do you get kids eat more fruit? It's simple, just cut the fruit up into bite-size pieces.

Past studies and surveys have revealed that children are more likely to eat fruit that is cut up in ready-to-eat bite-sized pieces.  However, new research shows that in most school cafeterias, fruit is often served whole.  Researchers believe this could be the reason why most children are taking fruits but not eating them.

It is generally assumed that children don't eat their fruits because of the taste and the allure of alternative packaged foods. 

Cornell University researchers Brian Wansink, David Just, Andrew Hanks, and Laura Smith wanted to see if increasing the convenience of fruit would increase consumption among children.

Researchers conducted a pilot study in eight elementary schools within the same district. The schools were given a commercial fruit slicer and instructed to use it when students requested apples. 

Researchers also interviewed children in the schools and found that younger students, who might have braces or missing teeth, avoided fruit because large fruits are too inconvenient to eat. Researchers also found that older girls thought eating large fruits in front of others is unattractive-looking.

The findings revealed that when the apples were sliced, fruit sales in schools increased by an average of 61 percent.

To confirm their findings, researchers looked at six middle schools from the same district.  Three of the middle schools were given fruit slicers and the other three control schools continued normal cafeteria operations. Researchers found that apple sales in schools with fruit slicers increased by 71 percent compared to control school. Furthermore, researchers found that the number of students who ate more than half their apple in schools with fruit slicers increased by 73 percent.

The study concludes that the making fruit easier to eat encourages more children to buy it and eat more of it. Not only can fruit slicers encourage fruit consumption among students, it can also prevent food waste, according to researchers.

The findings are published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine.

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