Reference Number: 649
Health: General health
Background: Many children do not eat enough whole grains, which may have negative health consequences. Intervention research is increasingly focusing on nudging as a way to influence food choices by affecting unconscious behavioural processes. The aim of this field study was to examine whether the shape of bread rolls is able to shift children’s bread choices from white to whole wheat during breakfast to increase whole grain intake.
Methods: In a between-subjects experiment conducted at twelve primary schools in the Netherlands, with school as the unit of condition assignment, children were exposed to an assortment of white and whole wheat bread rolls, both varying in shape (regular versus fun). Children were free to choose the type and number of bread rolls and toppings to eat during breakfast. Consumption of bread rolls was measured at class level via the number of bread rolls before and after breakfast. In addition, children (N = 1113) responded to a survey including questions about the breakfast.
Results: Results of the field experiment showed that about 76% of bread consumption consisted of white bread rolls. Consumption of white bread rolls did not differ according to shape (all P-values > 0.18). However, presenting fun-shaped whole wheat bread rolls almost doubled consumption of whole wheat bread (P = 0.001), particularly when the simultaneously presented white bread rolls had a regular shape (interaction P = 0.02). Survey results suggest that slight increases in perceived pleasure and taste are associated with these effects.
Significance to the baker:
The study found that presenting whole wheat bread in fun shapes may be helpful in increasing the consumption of whole wheat bread in children. Considering many children do not currently eat the recommended daily amounts of whole grain, this may be a promising strategy to encourage children to switch from white to whole wheat bread.