To test whether Yumbox, a bento-style lunchbox with compartments labeled for the 5 meal components of USDA's MyPlate, has an effect on foods that caregivers packed for preschoolers’ lunches.
Use of Theory
Yumbox provides distinct compartments for recommended food components of USDA MyPlate, leveraging visibility principals of behavioral economics theory. Caregivers may be more likely to pack lunches that include more components of MyPlate due to visual cues present in Yumbox.
Caregivers of preschoolers
Yumboxes were given to each child in a preschool (“Intervention School”) (n = 30). Caregivers received a brief orientation on using Yumbox, as well as a list of suggestions for foods for each section. A similar preschool was selected for comparison of the content of students’ lunches (“Control School”; n = 26). Contents of the students’ lunches in both preschools were documented over a 3-day period by photographing lunches in both schools (N = 110 lunches). Photos were then analyzed to identify if a meal component was present or absent in the students’ lunches.
All data were entered into SPSS for analysis. Descriptive statistics of food present for each component (vegetable, fruit, dairy, grain, protein), for both the Intervention and Control Schools were conducted. Chi-square analyses were also conducted to assess significant group differences in the presence of each food component. A comparison of the mean number of food components present on each student's trays were used to assess impact of the intervention.
This study found that the intervention group had had statistically significantly higher number of components (3.78 ± 0.95) compared to the control group (1.89 ± 0.93) t = -10.56; P < 0.0001. Chi-square tests found significant differences across all days for fruit, protein, and dairy, and significant differences on the first 2 days for vegetables.
This study provides evidence that Yumbox may have a positive influence on the types of foods caregivers pack for children's lunches.