Cash or credit? How kids pay for school lunch matters for health

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

American kids have a problem with obesity, according to the most recent studies. In fact, the closest thing we have to good news about childhood obesity is that kids are not gaining weight as rapidly as they were some years ago.

Researchers may have identified one surprising new factor in why kids are overeating.

Compared with kids who use cash in school cafeterias, kids who use debit cards seem to make more unhealthful eating choices, finds Brian Wansink, a behavioral economist at Cornell University.

"Kids are much, much, much more likely to take desserts and are much less likely to take fruits and vegetables" when they use their debit cards, says Wansink. "In contrast to that, in schools where kids are paying cash, kids not only buy a lot more fruit but they also buy a lot less dessert."

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