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Health Psychol. 2002 May;21(3):299-303.

Can fruits and vegetables and activities substitute for snack foods?

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Mental Health Research, Children's Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, Ottawa, Canada.


This study investigated the choice of snack foods versus fruits and vegetables and enjoyable sedentary behaviors using a computerized behavioral choice task. Thirty-nine participants were provided the choice of earning points for snack foods or fruits and vegetables (Condition 1) or snack foods or enjoyable sedentary behaviors (Condition 2). The behavioral cost to gain access to snacks increased across trials, whereas the behavioral costs to obtain alternatives to snack foods remained constant across trials. Results showed that when costs for snack foods and alternatives were equal, participants chose snack foods, but as the behavioral costs increased, participants shifted choice to the alternatives. The switch point for both alternatives was equal. Results suggest that fruits and vegetables and sedentary activities can substitute for snack foods when the behavioral cost for snack foods is increased.

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