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How Do Informational Prompts Affect Choices in the School Lunchroom?

37 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2017  

Chien-Yu Lai

University of Chicago

John A. List

University of Chicago - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics

Anya Savikhin Samek

Center for Economic and Social Research (CESR); The University of Chicago

Date Written: January 2017

Abstract

Obesity rates have doubled in the last forty years, and a major cause is the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages. In this paper, we identify channels through which information – about health benefits or taste - affects beverage choice. We conduct a field experiment in a school lunchroom with 2,500 children, evaluating the impact of informational prompts on beverage choice and consumption over 2 weeks. We find that prompts alone increase the proportion of children choosing and consuming the healthier white milk relative to sugar-sweetened chocolate milk from 20% in the control group to 30% in the treatment groups. Adding health or taste messaging to the prompt does not seem to make a difference. We survey students and find that most prompts affect perceived healthfulness of the milk, but not perceived taste. Finally, we find that the prompts are nearly as effective as a small non-monetary incentive.

Keywords: field experiment, food choice, children, information, prompts

JEL Classification: C72, C91

Suggested Citation

Lai, Chien-Yu and List, John A. and Samek, Anya Savikhin, How Do Informational Prompts Affect Choices in the School Lunchroom? (January 2017). CESR-Schaeffer Working Paper No. 2017-001. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2909407 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2909407

Chien-Yu Lai

University of Chicago ( email )

John List

University of Chicago - Department of Economics ( email )

1126 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637
United States

National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)

1050 Massachusetts Avenue
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

IZA Institute of Labor Economics

P.O. Box 7240
Bonn, D-53072
Germany

Anya Samek (Contact Author)

Center for Economic and Social Research (CESR) ( email )

635 Downey Way
Los Angeles, CA 90089-3332
United States

The University of Chicago ( email )

Chicago, IL 60637
United States

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