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Contests can boost child's appetite for fruit and veg

Encouraging children to eat fruit and vegetables is often a battle, but turning it into a competition could be the answer, according to research.

A new study suggests that playing to a youngster's competitive streak is likely to result in them choosing more of the healthy foods.

Research was conducted among more than 600 pupils aged six to seven and nine to 10 in 31 English schools.


For the "individual" scheme, pupils were given a sticker if they chose a portion of fruit or vegetables at lunchtime, or brought one in as part of a packed lunch. They were given an extra reward for more than four of the foods over a week.

In the "competition" scheme, a second set of pupils were also given a sticker for choosing a portion of fruit and vegetables, but were split into groups of four, with the youngster in the group who had the most stickers at the end of the week gaining an extra reward.

There was also a control group that was offered no incentives for eating fruit or veg.

Although the results differed by pupils' age, gender and background, overall offering pupils incentives increased their consumption of the foods, with the competition having a greater and longer-lasting effect than the individual scheme.