A mixed-methods approach was used to evaluate and improve the “late-night dining” options in a university dining hall. Surveys assessed student desires for late-night offerings, and evaluated students’ habits and motivations during late-night dining. Two interventions were implemented to see if students could be “nudged” into different choice patterns. In the first, a “veggie-heavy” entrée was added at the beginning of the entrée line, so that students would substitute an entrée containing vegetables for the alternatives. In the second, a snack-food bar was set up to cater to students who didn’t want to stand in the long entrée line, and preferred a snack. Data on food choice was collected during the interventions. Survey responses showed significant differences in the reasons females and males utilized late-night dining (p<0.001). We also found that students at late-night dining had a lower emphasis on health than the general student population. Even students at late-night who reported being health-conscious showed no difference in food selections from students who said health was not important (p = 0.883). Veggie-heavy entrées had mild success in increasing vegetable selection. However, veggie-heavy entrées were largely ignored when the other option was chicken nuggets. The snack bar was very popular. Entrée placement and convenience lines may have mild impacts on food selection in a late-night dining environment.
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© 2018 Bevet et al.
Bevet S, Niles MT, Pope L. You can’t “nudge” nuggets: An investigation of college late-night dining with behavioral economics interventions. PloS one. 2018 May 31;13(5):e0198162.