Catchy names like X-Ray vision carrots make kids eat more vegies

Kimberly Gillan
Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Scientists have discovered giving vegetables whacky names encourages kids to eat twice as many.

Cornell University researchers offered 147 primary school students aged eight to 11 a new lunch menu, which included carrots, over three days.

One day the meal was named "X-ray vision carrots", the next day it was called "Food of the day" and the third day it had no name.

The researchers found the children ate 66 percent more carrots when they were called "X-ray vision" compared to 35 percent when it had no name and 32 percent when it was called "Food of the day".

Similarly when the researchers called broccoli "Power Punch Broccoli" and beans "Silly Dilly Green Beans", they found sales went up by 99 percent in the school's canteen.

"This research suggests that schools have a low-cost or even no-cost solution to induce children to consume more nutritious foods," study author Professor Brian Wansink said.

"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."

Pip Golley, spokesperson for the Dietitians Association of Australia, told ninemsn that giving vegies fun names is a good start.

"It's been done in a school setting and that's really important because schools have such a big influence on children. But I think they can be transferred outside of the school setting and used in the home," she said.

"This needs to be used in combination with other strategies to make vegetables more appealing to children."

According to Golley, parents need to set a good example by eating a lot of healthy foods.

"If parents are seen to be eating and enjoying vegetables themselves, then children are more likely to eat them," she said.

"Getting children involved in growing and harvesting vegetables as well as food preparation is just as important."

Making fruit and vegetable faces and offering snacks such as plain popcorn and savoury vegetable muffins are other good tactics, according to Golley.

"Eating should be a pleasurable and stress-free experience. It's important to make healthy food fun," she said.

The study will be published in the Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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