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    • PI: Dr. Helen Jensen
  • Iowa State University
  • Project Title:
    Building Healthy Habits in Social Networks: Making Fruits and Vegetables a Popular Choice during the School Lunch
  • Key Findings
    The main goal of this study is to explore whether social team incentives can improve the effectiveness and sustainability of educational interventions by exploiting imitation, social learning, and social influence in friendship networks. We find that simple, explicit incentives to encourage 4th and 5th graders to increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables lead to increased fruit and vegetable consumption in school. The effects of incentives were compared when provided to individuals, simple paired teams, and social paired teams (with friends). Results from two elementary schools in Des Moines, IA (control and treated) showed the treatment phase increased the fruit and vegetable consumption by almost 50% in the treated school. Although the effect weakens, the difference persisted 4 weeks after the intervention. There were no significant gender differences in the control school; females responded slightly more strongly than males to the social pair treatment in the treatment school. The treatment had a positive effect during both the treatment phase and in the post-treatment phase. The treatment with incentives was relatively low cost and effective. The treatment effect carried over after the intervention.