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Catchy vegetable names can make kids eat more greens

Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

Researchers from the Cornell University conducted a couple of studies to explore whether a simple change such as using attractive names would influence kid's consumption of vegetables.

In the first study, plain old carrots were transformed into 'X-ray Vision Carrots'. 147 students ranging from 8-11 years old from 5 schools participated in tasting the 'cool new' vegetables.

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'.

The study found that by changing the carrots to 'X-ray vision carrots', a whopping 66 per cent were eaten, far greater than the 32 per cent eaten when labelled 'Food of the Day' and 35 per cent eaten when unnamed.

In the second study, carrots remained 'X-Ray vision carrots', broccoli became 'Power Punch Broccoli' and 'Silly Dilly Green Beans' replaced regular old green beans.

Researchers looked at food sales over two months in two neighbouring 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 per cent attended the treatment school. The were outstanding: vegetable purchases went up by 99 per cent in the treatment school, while in the other school vegetable sales declined by 16 per cent.

These 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, researchers said in a statement.

First Published: Mon, September 17 2012. 15:05 IST