What is CHOMPS?
CHOMPS is a project designed to see if children and adolescents will buy healthier food items more often if they are given “kids-only” coupons to discount the price of healthier foods at local convenience stores. We know that children, on their own, spend a lot of money buying food when they are outside of school and home, and most of those food items are high-calorie snacks. Our study will explore and understand children’s reasons for buying snack foods outside of school and how important the price of those snack foods is when deciding to buy. We would like to use the information we learn in Somerville, MA to help design a larger project that promotes children’s healthy food choices in other communities as well.
The acronym CHOMPS stands for “Coupons for Healthier Options for Minors Purchasing Snacks.” The work is being conducted by researchers at Tufts University and Michigan State University, in cooperation with Shape Up Somerville and other community partners and researchers. This project is supported by Agriculture and Food Research Initiative. Competitive Grant no. 2014-69001-21756 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture
What will the study involve?
The CHOMPS project will include three main steps:
- The CHOMPS team will visit convenience stores in the Somerville area to observe the food that children are buying on their own. The CHOMPS staff will use a checklist to write down what they see the children buying but will not speak to children or interrupt them in any way. We will also conduct focus groups with children at local after-school programs to learn more about what they think about when buying food on their own in Somerville. These focus groups will only be completed with written permission from the children’s parents or guardians.
- Coupons for snack foods will be made available at participating convenience stores, either on a table or attached to the shelves near the snack foods. We want to see how the coupons may or may not change the types of foods that children decide to buy. Again, the CHOMPS staff will use a checklist to write down what they see the children buying but will not speak to the children or interrupt them in any way. We will compare these sales to the levels noted before the coupons were provided.
- The CHOMPS team will work with afterschool programs located near the convenience stores that offered CHOMPS coupons to choose children to do individual interviews and a few quick tests. The interview will ask about whether or not the children saw and used the in-store coupons. The tests will explore the child’s language skills, development, and social skills to help understand why the coupon intervention worked or didn't work. These individual interviews and tests will only be completed with written permission from the children’s parents or guardians.
We have chosen to work with Somerville, MA because it is a racially diverse community with schools that are walkable. We have also successfully partnered with Somerville, MA in the past and enjoy giving back to the community that is so close to our Medford Campus.
Thank you for your interest in our study
Human Subjects Research Approval:
The project is subject to oversight by the Tufts University’s Social, Behavioral, and Educational Research Institutional Review Board (IRB). The IRB is a panel of Tufts' faculty and staff, as well as at least one individual community member that reviews all human subject research protocols to determine if they are assuring adequate protection of human participants. The composition and authority of this committee is established by the Code of Federal Regulations.