Just dessert: Serving fruit as a separate "dessert" course increases vegetable consumption in a school lunch

Debra A. Zellner, Jennifer L. Cobuzzi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Consumption of vegetables is related to overall health. American children, particularly low income students who qualify for free school meals, consume a majority of their calories at school. The United States Federal Government sets regulations for those school meals to promote healthy eating, encouraging the consumption of well-liked fruits and less-liked vegetables. Given that hedonic contrast can affect liking for foods served simultaneously, this study investigated whether a well-liked fruit served at the same time as a less-liked vegetable in a school lunch would reduce consumption and liking for that vegetable compared to when the fruit was served subsequent to vegetable consumption. All of the third and fourth grade subjects consumed some of the vegetable when the fruit was served after the vegetable. When the fruit and vegetable were served simultaneously 40% of the subjects consumed none of the vegetable (Cramer's V=. 0.52). There was no difference in liking ratings for the vegetable as reported by subjects, though they may have felt peer pressure to positively rate their meal. Serving the fruit component after the rest of the meal is recommended as a standard practice to encourage vegetable consumption in school children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)195-198
Number of pages4
JournalFood Quality and Preference
StatePublished - 1 Mar 2016


  • Consumption
  • Fruit
  • Hedonic contrast
  • Meal
  • School lunch
  • Vegetable


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