Table Talkers Talk Kids into Healthy Eating

Wednesday, June 15, 2016: 9:10 AM
B26 (Stiteler Hall)

Author(s): Janani Rajbhandari Thapa; Michelle VanDellan

Discussant: Tadeja Gracner

Childhood obesity rates in the US have more than doubled in children and quadrupled in adolescents in the US in the past 30 years. Hence, there is a growing interest in using current infrastructures to identify ways of preventing obesity. The National School Lunch Program (NSLP) is the second largest food and nutrition assistance program. A key problem is that healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables (F&V), are not chosen by children and it is frequently not eaten even when served.

 A project is being implemented from August 2015 in nine elementary schools, serving two adjacent counties in the state of Georgia, in a quasi-experimental design. The research examines the effect of providing fun facts about F&V to increase familiarity and hence selection and consumption of F&V. The goal is to change the focus of the decision maker (lunch room participants) from food alone to food “with fun”, consistent with previous research conducted by the research team. The hypothesized outputs are increased elementary school children’s selection and consumption of F&V after the intervention.

 Data and Preliminary Analysis

Plate waste from fruits and vegetables was measured for two weeks on average in ABA design involving baseline, intervention and post intervention observation. Plate waste were visually observed and recorded using plate waste record sheets. The sheet was designed to record whether a serving of fruits and vegetables was selected, not eaten, half eaten or completely eaten, separately for fruits and vegetables. The method is consistent with the Quarter-Waste Method.13

 This far we have data from four schools (2 control, 2 intervention). A total of 4879 trays were observed (1951 during the baseline with 2928 during the intervention and 2376 in the intervention and 2503 in the control schools). Measures of F&V consumption and selection developed were servings of F&V consumed and frequency of trays with at least two servings of F&V respectively. Preliminary analysis show that the mean servings of F&V consumption were 0.561±0.041 servings during the baseline and 0.565±0.035 servings during the intervention in the intervention school. Consumption decreased by 0.134 servings in the control school. There was also a significant increase in selection of F&V in the intervention schools and not in the control schools. 


The finding of this project has very high potential for future implementation in school lunchroom. The research actions undertaken are straight forward and easy to replicate. Increasing familiarity with foods and associating foods with fun facts can have a positive effect

on F&V selection and consumption.