Interviews

Paying kids to eat healthier?

A good way to encourage healthy habits?

 

This is a rush transcript from "Your World," December 18, 2013. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

STUART VARNEY, GUEST HOST: All right, now to the government's push to get kids to eat healthier. There's a problem.

Out of $5.4 million being spent on fresh fruits and vegetables each day in our schools, about two-thirds of it winds up in the trash each day. Now a new study published in The Journal of Human Resources finds that giving kids a small reward, a financial reward, increases fruit and veggie consumption by 80 percent and cuts waste 33 percent.

How big is the bribe? Anywhere from a nickel to a quarter to eat each portion.

So, should we be paying kids to eat healthier?

Mom Stefanie Weiss thinks it's a good idea. Mom Lyss Stern says it's ridiculous. We really do have two opposing points of view, I do believe.

(LAUGHTER)

VARNEY: OK.

(CROSSTALK)

VARNEY: OK. Lyss, what's wrong with a little financial encouragement, if that's what it takes to make the kids eat some vegetables?

LYSS STERN, FOUNDER, DIVALYSSCIOUS MOMS: OK.

What I think is wrong with a little financial investment towards these children to eat their fruits and vegetables is that it is wrong. That's bribery.

(LAUGHTER)

STERN: And what I think the problem is that it should start at home. Parents should feed children healthy foods and vegetables and start that way when they're a young age, so that when they get to a certain age, they will enjoy fruits and vegetables and that is what they will want.

VARNEY: OK.

(CROSSTALK)

VARNEY: OK. OK. Look, I know kids. They, no, I'm not eating brussels sprouts. I'm not eating it.

STERN: That's fine. There are plenty of other vegetables out there.

VARNEY: And if you offer them a nickel or -- no, a dollar, you offer them a dollar, eat that sprout, most of them would. And I think that's good.

STERN: OK. That's great.

(CROSSTALK)

VARNEY: Am I such a terrible parent?

STERN: That's fine. And that's your opinion. But I believe the schools should not be paying the children to eat their fruits and vegetables.

I also don't think it's setting a good precedent. Are we going to pay our children to go to school? Are we going to pay our children to get good grades? Is this where we're going?

(CROSSTALK)

VARNEY: Stefanie, you have no problem with this?

(CROSSTALK)

(LAUGHTER)

STEFANIE WEISS, FOUNDER, ASK STEFANIE: OK.

We're going to -- OK. So let's be honest. OK? I'm a mom. I have three kids. And let me tell you, I always say to my husband, they can be bought. And it is true.

(CROSSTALK) VARNEY: Yes. Yes.

WEISS: I think this study -- we agree?

VARNEY: Yes.

WEISS: This study is fascinating.

What I think you -- what -- what could be done is that it could be the money could go to a really cool thing for the school. Maybe they can put it toward a concert for the school with a celebrity.

STERN: Yes.

WEISS: Or maybe it could be put towards donating a swing set for the school and put to good use.

But the bottom, bottom line is, kids can be bought. Right? Bribery works. It does.

(CROSSTALK) VARNEY: OK, because forget the schools for a second. Let's talk about individual parents like the three of us, for example.

(CROSSTALK)

VARNEY: You don't think there's anything wrong with me as a parent saying, eat the brussel and you get a buck?

WEISS: Not if you're doing a test with your child.

I have done it in my own home. I will turn to my husband. My son has a test on Friday. He's watching.

(LAUGHTER)

WEISS: And I will say, OK, study and if -- I'm telling you if you get over a 90 or you get an 80 or above, I'm telling you, you're going to get whatever. You're getting to go out for dinner with us or you're going to get a special prize.

(CROSSTALK)

WEISS: I am telling you, I know my child. Done. He will be like, I will see you Friday.

(CROSSTALK)

STERN: But that's a parent's individual choice.

VARNEY: Yes.

STERN: And if a parent wants to bribe at home, go for it. I have no problem with that. But what I do have a problem with is the schools and the government getting involved bribing...

(CROSSTALK)

VARNEY: I see the point.

WEISS: It's an interesting study, though.

And that's what I think is interesting, is that it's a study. And they found is, look at the results

(CROSSTALK)

VARNEY: It works.

WEISS: It was unbelievable.

VARNEY: It works.

WEISS: That's what is crazy. Like, so there's something behind it and like what are we going to do with that information? It worked. That's what is interesting.

VARNEY: Lyss, I want your moral judgment on me.

(LAUGHTER)

STERN: OK.

VARNEY: Am I a bad parent if, in the past, the distant past, I did indeed offer a financial bribe to young children to eat?

(LAUGHTER)

(CROSSTALK)

WEISS: Genius. Genius.

STERN: I think that is fine because that's what you chose to do.

However, again, going back to the schools and the government, I want them to stay out. I don't want them paying the children to eat their fruits and veggies.

(CROSSTALK)

VARNEY: I'm running out of time, but I'm really into this one.

(LAUGHTER)

VARNEY: Is it OK to bribe teenagers not to eat junk and occasionally have fruit?

WEISS: Of course.

STERN: No.

VARNEY: That's OK?

(CROSSTALK)

WEISS: I love it. It's genius.

(CROSSTALK)

STERN: Not in schools. Not in schools.

Guys, I disagree. I don't think it should be done in school with money. That's my own opinion.

VARNEY: I'm just a bad parent.

WEISS: I think it could be used for a good cause.

(LAUGHTER)

WEISS: That could be -- that could be the intermediary. Right? Like, a good thing for the school.

VARNEY: All right, ladies, thank you very much indeed.

(LAUGHTER)

VARNEY: We clearly disagree on this one.

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