241718 How Cafeteria Lighting Can Change Adolescent Healthful Choices of Food

Monday, October 31, 2011: 12:30 PM

David Glenn, Marketing expert in behavioral economics , University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, CT
Adolescents do not select enough fresh fruit and vegetables at school and are resistant to didactic nutrition lessons. Retail grocery chains have successfully used enhanced lighting to direct consumer choice. We will determine whether we demonstrate the same effect in middle-school cafeterias. A small inexpensive change that increases healthy food selection may reduce adolescent obesity. The pilot study includes 2 control and 2 treatment middle schools in Stamford, Connecticut in which we compare fruit and vegetable choice before and after lighting installation. This paper describes issues emerging during planning. We expected the intervention to be simple screwing in specialty light bulbs -- but it was not. Each cafeteria is different. Placement of fixtures, food safety codes, electrical circuitry, matching of schools, and school cooperation all affected installation. All were solvable and will not affect study completion by 7/2011. These initial findings will guide full implementation of a forthcoming study with enough power to measure effect. Behavioral economics research shows that we can gently prod change by adjusting the environment in subtle ways.

Learning Areas:
Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Provision of health care to the public
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Describe how food manufacturers and retailers use specialized lighting to manage food choices by consumers. 2. Demonstrate how schools can incorporate specialized lighting in cafeterias to enhance fresh fruit and vegetables. 3. Discuss the low cost and ease of scaling up a large roll out of a specialized lighting in school cafeterias.

Keywords: Adolescents, Obesity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to present because I oversee programs such as obesity prevention in schools, and due to over 30 years of successful marketing interventions.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.