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Attractive names sustain increased vegetable intake in schools

Date:
September 17, 2012
Source:
Cornell Food & Brand Lab
Summary:
The age-old parental struggle of convincing youngsters to eat their fruits and vegetables has some new allies: Power Punch Broccoli, X-Ray Vision Carrots -- and a host of catchy names for entrees in school cafeterias. Researchers studied how a simple change, such as using attractive names, would influence elementary-aged children's consumption of vegetables. This research suggests that schools have a low-cost or even no-cost solution to induce children to consume more nutritious foods.

Would you rather eat "carrots" or "crunchy yummy carrots"? Or, if you're a youngster, "X-Ray Vision Carrots"?
Credit: Jacek Chabraszewski / Fotolia

Would you rather eat "carrots" or "crunchy yummy carrots"? Or, if you're a youngster, "X-Ray Vision Carrots"? Kids seem to have an aversion to eating vegetables, but can this be changed?

Previous work conducted by Wansink et al., in 2005 revealed that sensory perceptions of descriptive foods are better than plain dishes with no fancy descriptors. But can children be influenced to prefer vegetables using this same approach? To find out, researchers Brian Wansink, David Just, Collin Payne, and Matthew Klinger conducted a couple of studies to explore whether a simple change such as using attractive names would influence kid's consumption of vegetables.

Name that food

In the first study, plain old carrots were transformed into "X-ray Vision Carrots." 147 students ranging from 8-11 years old from 5 ethnically and economically diverse schools participated in tasting the cool new foods. Lunchroom menus were the same except that carrots were added on three consecutive days. On the first and last days, carrots remained unnamed. On the second day, the carrots were served as either "X-ray Vision Carrots" or "Food of the Day." Although the amount of carrots selected was not impacted by the 3 different naming conditions the amount eaten was very much so. By changing the carrots to "X-ray vision carrots," a whopping 66% were eaten, far greater than the 32% eaten when labeled "Food of the Day" and 35% eaten when unnamed. The success of the changes is stupendous, and the fun, low cost nature of the change makes it all the more enticing.

20/20 Interview Clip

In the second study, carrots became "X-Ray vision carrots," broccoli did a hulk like morph into "Power Punch Broccoli" along with "Tiny Tasty Tree Tops" and "Silly Dilly Green Beans" replaced regular old green beans to give them more pizzazz. Researchers looked at food sales over two months in two neighboring NYC suburban schools. For the first month, both schools offered unnamed food items, while on the second month carrots, broccoli and green beans were given the more attractive names, only in one of the schools (the treatment school.) Of the 1,552 students involved 47.8% attended the treatment school. The results were outstanding: vegetable purchases went up by 99% in the treatment school, while in the other school vegetable sales declined by 16%.

These results demonstrate that using attractive names for healthy foods increases kid's selection and consumption of these foods and that an attractive name intervention is robust, effective and scalable at little or no cost. Very importantly, these studies confirm that using attractive names to make foods sound more appealing works on individuals across all age levels.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Cornell Food & Brand Lab. The original article was written by Nathan Orsi and Joanna Ladzinski. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Wansink, Brian, Just, David R., Payne, Collin R., & Klinger, Matthew. Attractive Names Sustain Increased Vegetable Intake in Schools. Preventive Medicine, 2012 (in press)

Cite This Page:

Cornell Food & Brand Lab. "Attractive names sustain increased vegetable intake in schools." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 September 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120917090248.htm>.
Cornell Food & Brand Lab. (2012, September 17). Attractive names sustain increased vegetable intake in schools. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120917090248.htm
Cornell Food & Brand Lab. "Attractive names sustain increased vegetable intake in schools." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/09/120917090248.htm (accessed July 25, 2014).

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