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Study: Don't ban, just move unhealthy food

ITHACA, N.Y., Oct. 22 (UPI) -- School cafeterias trying to get students to eat more healthy foods don't need to change their offerings, researchers say -- just move some of them.

A Cornell University study says the easiest way to improve children's choices of good food is to make the healthier items more convenient, more visible and more "cool," a university release said Friday.

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In one set of schools, the study showed, sales of fruit increased by 100 percent when it was moved to a colorful bowl.

Salad bar sales tripled when the cart was placed in front of cash registers.

In other schools, creating a speedy "healthy express" checkout line for students not buying calorie-dense foods like desserts and chips doubled the sales of healthy sandwiches.

Ice cream kept in a freezer with a closed, opaque top significantly reduced the amount of ice cream taken.

And finally, moving chocolate milk behind plain milk increased sales of plain milk.

The conclusion of six different studies with more than 11,000 middle and high school shows that psychology and economics might be better in promoting healthy eating than outlawing tasty but unhealthy food.

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"It's not nutrition until someone eats it. You need to have foods that kids will eat, or they won't eat -- or they'll eat worse," Chris Wallace, food service director for the Corning, N.Y., School District, said.

The Cornell study was presented at a School Nutrition Association conference in New York.

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