-- Robert Preidt
FRIDAY, Oct. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Students eat more junk food
and eat more overall when they pay electronically at school
cafeterias, a new study finds.
In an effort to keep lunch lines moving and make accounting
easier, about 80 percent of U.S. school cafeterias use debit cards
or accounts that parents can put money into, the Cornell University
"There may be a reason for concern about the popularity of cashless systems," they wrote. "Debit cards have been shown to induce more frivolous purchases or greater overall spending."
The researchers compared purchases made by students in first
through 12th grades at school cafeterias that use debit-only
systems and those that accept debit or cash, according to a
university news release.
The students at debit-only cafeterias consumed an average of 752
calories per lunch, compared with 721 calories for those at
Unhealthy foods such as cheeseburgers, french fries, desserts
and candy accounted for 441 of the lunch calories consumed by
students at debit-only cafeterias, compared with 378 of the
calories consumed by students at debit/cash cafeterias, according
to the study, which was published recently in the journal
The findings have important implications for schools and
childhood obesity, said researchers David Just and Brian Wansink,
co-directors of the Cornell Center for Behavioral Economics in
Child Nutrition Programs.
If the use of cash instead of debit cards can motivate students
to make slightly healthier food choices, then maybe something like
a "cash-for-cookies" policy in school cafeterias would "encourage
students to think twice before making their selection," the
Let's Move has more about
healthy school lunches.
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