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Does design affect diet?
The Valley City Public Schools, under the direction of food service director Sue Milender, will be conducting an experiment this week to track food sales following a visit from behavioral economist Dr. David Just.
Just was taken on a tour of the schools Friday morning with Milender after speaking at the Hi-Liner Activity Center on Thursday.
âEssentially, Iâm looking for small ways that we can change the design or layout of the food that leads kids to choose healthier items rather then the less healthy items.â he said. âItâs not about taking the less healthy items away, the chips will still be here for breakfast, but it wonât be the first thing the kids see.
Just said that keeping fresh fruit and vegetables at eye level will prompt students to make more health conscious decisions about what they are putting in their bodies, and if junk food is moved to the back or to a lower rack, it will be âout of sight and out of mind.â
âSmall things like that can have a big impact, about 30 percent on the movement of fruit versus movement of chips or Rice Krispie treats,â Just said.
The tools used to dispense food did not escape Justâs eye, either. He said at one school he visited, a vat of mayonnaise was available to students with a large ladle to scoop it out. He also pointed out a small pair of tongs used to dispense strawberries at Washington Elementary School.
âSmall inconvenience really does limit how much we take, and we may think it doesnât affect us much,â said Just. âFor some of those less healthy items, finding the right service so that itâs not so inconvenient that people canât get it who want it, but itâs not convenient to take tons and tons and overeat it.â
Milender said it was an honor to have Just at the schools, and his only two stops in North Dakota last week were in Valley City and Fargo.
âWeâre going to take all the information that heâs given us and weâre going to put into practice,â Milender said. âWeâll be watching sales.â