Does labeling carrots as "twisted citrus-glazed carrots" or green beans as "sweet sizzilin' green beans and crispy shallots" make them more enticing and increase vegetable consumption? According to researchers from Stanford University in California, the answer is yes.
The team tested whether using indulgent descriptive words and phrases typically used to describe less healthy foods would increase vegetable consumption because some perceive healthier foods as less tasty.
Each weekday for the 2016 autumn academic quarter, one vegetable was labeled in 1 of 4 ways:
- Basic (e.g., beets, green beans or carrots)
- Healthy restrictive (e.g., "lighter-choice beets with no added sugar," "light 'n' low-carb green beans and shallots" or "carrots with sugar-free citrus dressing")
- Healthy positive (e.g., "high-antioxidant beets," "healthy energy-boosting green beans and shallots" or "smart-choice vitamin C citrus carrots")
- Indulgent (e.g., "dynamite chili and tangy lime-seasoned beets," "sweet sizzilin' green beans and crispy shallots" or "twisted citrus-glazed carrots").
Although the labeling changed, there were no changes in how the vegetables were prepared or served.
Research assistants discretely recorded the number of diners who selected the vegetable and weighed the mass of vegetable taken from the serving bowl.
People more likely to choose indulgently labelled veggies and eat more of them
Indulgent labeling of vegetables resulted in 25 percent more people selecting the vegetable compared with basic labeling, 41 percent more people than the healthy restrictive labeling and 35 percent more people than the healthy positive labeling.
Indulgent labeling of vegetables also resulted in a 23 percent increase in the amount of vegetables consumed compared with basic labeling and a 33 percent increase in the amount of vegetables consumed compared with the healthy restrictive labeling.
The researchers concluded that further research should assess how well these effects generalize to other settings and explore the potential of indulgent labeling to help dismiss the mindset that healthy foods are not tasty.
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