Thursday, October 12, 2017

Spicing up Veggies

Vegetable consumption is notoriously low: Just 13% of adults and 5% of children eat the recommended servings of vegetables per day. Studies have pointed to one way to get kids to eat more veggies: giving vegetables cool names like "x-ray vision carrots" and "power punch broccoli." A recent study found that the tactic was equally effective in adults when vegetables were given "indulgent" descriptions such as "dynamite chili and tangy lime-seasoned beets" or "sweet sizzlin' green beans and crispy shallots."

In this study, a large university cafeteria participated in a 46-day experiment in which researchers randomly labeled one vegetable per day with one of four types of labels. The actual vegetable was identical; only the descriptors changed.
  • Basic: Zucchini
  • Healthy restrictive: Lighter-choice zucchini
  • Healthy positive: Nutritious green zucchini
  • Indulgent: Slow-roasted caramelized zucchini bites
Each day, researchers recorded the number of people who selected the vegetable and weighed the mass of the vegetable taken. A significantly larger number of diners chose the indulgently labeled vegetables--and ate more of them.

Interestingly, the vegetables promoted for their healthiness were rejected as often as those with dull descriptions. This may have been at least in part because healthy foods were perceived to be less tasty.

Which choice would you have made?