Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair(s)

Gregory Madden


Gregory Madden


Amy Odum


Jamison Fargo


Michael Twohig


Heidi Wengreen


Researchers in the Psychology Department and the Nutrition, Dietetics, and Food Sciences Department sought to improve elementary school children’s in-school fruit and vegetable (FV) consumption. To achieve this goal, a program that has proven effective in the UK called the Food Dudes (FD) program was implemented in six local schools. Schools were assigned to either experience the traditional FD program (with prize rewards, such as pencil cases and bubbles), a modified version of the FD program (with praise rewards replacing the prize rewards), or no FD program (the control group). Students who consumed a pre-specified amount of FV each day during the intervention earned a reward according to the program’s schedule. Results showed that students in the Prize schools were consuming more FV than students in the Praise schools and the Control schools at follow-up when the intervention had been removed for six months.

While the success of the FD program with prize rewards (i.e., incentives) was encouraging, many teachers reported issues with its implementation. An incentive-based intervention may be difficult for schools to implement due to high labor and material costs, especially without outside assistance. Therefore, we aimed to reduce these costs while maintaining the use of incentives. We developed an intervention based on the principles of gamification in which students earned in-game, virtual rewards for meeting their FV consumption goals each day at school. This intervention was rated favorably by teachers and parents and showed significant increases in school-wide and individual FV consumption in two schools in Logan, UT, but long-term increases were not obtained.

Improving children’s dietary decisions, namely FV consumption, is an important goal that can positively impact future health. Sustainable, incentive-based interventions, like the school-wide gamification model developed in this project, represent a promising step toward achieving this goal.



Included in

Psychology Commons