School concession stands get a healthy makeover for study

New study recommends school concession stands be included as part of healthy diet programs.
By Amy Wallace  |  Jan. 18, 2017 at 9:58 AM
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Jan. 18 (UPI) -- Researchers at Cornell University have found that students appreciate healthy food options offered at sporting event concession stands.

In a 2014 study, conducted by Cornell University and the University of Iowa, researchers found that when given the option, students chose healthier foods when they were made available at school concession stands.

"We found that an average of 77 percent of students purchased healthier foods when they were available and that revenue also increased when a variety of healthy items were available," Brian Wansink, Ph.D., professor and director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab and co-author of the study, said in a press release. "This [is] a game changer for both schools and healthier students."

For the study, researchers worked with a booster club president at a large high school to add healthier items to the menu and found that by adding eight new healthy options from the USDA Smart Snacks guidelines increased concession stand sales by 9 percent and overall sales by 4 percent.

"While these findings were positive," Dr. Helena Laroche, of the University of Iowa and co-author of the study, said in a press release. "We really wanted to know how students felt about the change, so we conducted a follow-up survey to gauge their satisfaction."

Researchers surveyed 314 students about whether healthy food choices were important or not. The students were divided into two groups, those who valued healthier options and those who did not.

Of those who expressed the importance of healthy food options, 79 percent purchased at least one new healthy food item on the menu. Among those who did not place importance on healthy food options, 76 percent purchased at least one healthy item during the school year.

"Selling healthy foods at concession stands turns out to be a win-win," David Just, Ph.D., of Cornell University and co-author of the study, said in a press release. "Students are more satisfied and the bottom line improves."

The survey results were published in the Journal of School Health.

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