Examining the Efficacy of a 'Feasible' Nudge Intervention to Increase the Purchase of Vegetables by First Year University Students (17-19 Years of Age) in British Columbia: A Pilot Study.Nutrients. 2019 Aug 02; 11(8)N
In the transition from high school to university, vegetable consumption tends to deteriorate, potentially influencing immediate and longer-term health outcomes. Nudges, manipulation of the environment to influence choice, have emerged as important to behavior change goals. This quasi-experimental pilot study examined the impact of a contextually feasible evidence-informed nudge intervention on food purchasing behavior of older adolescents (1st year students) in a university residence cafeteria in British Columbia, Canada. A co-design process with students and staff identified a student relevant and operationally feasible nudge intervention; a placement nudge, fresh vegetables at the hot food table, combined with a sensory and cognitive nudge, signage encouraging vegetable purchase). Using a 12-week single-case A-B-A-B design, observations of the proportion of vegetables purchased were used to assess intervention efficacy. Data analysis included visual trend inspection, central tendency measures, data overlap, variability and latency. Visual trend inspection showed a positive trend when nudges were in place, which was more apparent with female purchases and during the first intervention (B) phase. However, further analysis showed lack of baseline stability, high variability across phases and overlapping data, limiting efficacy conclusions. Menu choices, staff encouragement, term timing and student finances are other potential influences. Further 'real world' nudge research is needed.