Fun Names Make More Kids Eat Their Greens

fun with vegetables

It is no secret that kids can be fussy eaters and it is often a struggle to get them to eat the recommended amount of vegetables in a day but new research shows that using catchy names can encourage consumption.

Researches from Cornell University theorised that using fun names for vegetables should lead to a greater uptake among children so they conducted two main studies.

The first was across 5 schools and involved 147 students ranging in age from 8 to 11 and focused on carrots as a test vegetable. The lunchrooms offered carrots on 3 consecutive days, the first and last of which were control days where the veg remained unnamed. On the second day, the carrots were either labelled as “Food of the Day” or “X-ray Vision Carrots”.

The results showed that while the naming of the carrots did not impact the number of carrots the children chose to put onto their plates, it did affect the number of carrots actually eaten. Those choosing “X-ray Vision Carrots” ate 66% of the carrots on their plates while those offered the “Food of the Day” carrots only ate 32%. The control days showed a 35% consumption rate.

In the second experiment, two neighbouring schools in New York served up carrots, broccoli and green beans as plain ol’ vegetables for 1 month and then one of the schools changed the names of these items to “X-ray Vision Carrots”, “Power Punch Broccoli” or “Tiny Tasty Tree Tops” and “Silly Dilly Green Beans”.

In the second month, the school with the fun sounding veggies experienced a 99% increase in vegetable purchases while the control school actually saw a 16% decrease.

One researcher put the results in context:

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.

Green Steve’s Reaction

As a fussy eater myself when I was younger, I would welcome anything that helps kids get more enjoyment out of vegetables.

Overweight children are fast becoming a big issue and eating more veg and fewer snacks and fatty foods can only be a good thing. I myself am currently going vegetarian for a week and this is no mean feat for someone who didn’t really eat vegetables until the age of 21.

How far can they take this research I wonder? Can the naming of foods based on their carbon footprint work too?

Steve (156 Posts)

I am chief writer and editor on Green Steve. Blogging since 2011, I like to delve into a wide number of topics to help people reduce their carbon footprint. You should follow me on Twitter here. And add me to your Google+ circles here.

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