If your kid stubbornly refuses to eat their vegetables don’t fret just start bribing them to do such! By giving your child an incentive to eat more fruits and vegetables can help them develop healthy eating habits. There is science to prove it may cost a little to establish a healthy diet in children but it pays off in the long run.

Researchers gathered 8,000 children in first through sixth grade at 40 elementary schools to test whether short-term incentives could create better, and lasting, eating habits. For a year and a half, students who ate at least one serving of fruit or vegetables, such as an apple, side salad, or a banana, at lunchtime, received a 25-cent token that could be redeemed at the school’s store, carnival, or book fair. During this test period, there was a dramatic increase in fruit and vegetable consumption. The more they ate, the more they had to spend.

As the kids ate the healthy and raw snacks, they began to realize that they liked them. From a holistic standpoint, this is not surprising given that they felt better after eating an apple as opposed to a bag of flaming chips. As the youngsters began to recalibrate their bodies and dialing down their systems needs for intense and highly pleasurable flavors, they naturally became attracted to healthy alternatives. The best part, two months after the incentives ended, many more students than before the program started were still eating a fruit or vegetable at lunch.

As youngsters started changing their habits, a positive peer group emerged and encouraged more children to join and stick with the program. Scientists believe one way to quickly get everyone on the bandwagon is by making sure the ‘cool kids’ were early adopters of the behavior. At home, it may take a village of ‘cool’ aunts and uncles, cousins, and brothers and sisters, to foster familial role models for your child to eat their vegetables. But a little effort now can certainly help establish a lifetime of good eating habits and having a healthy child will make it all worth it.

(Information for this blog post is from a study in the Journal of Health Economics)

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