Getting kids (and husbands) to eat their vegetables is frequently an uphill battle.
Biology doesn’t help, since although vegetables are nutrient dense, they don’t have too much “brain” appeal. Our brain is wired to seek out calorie dense foods. Foods loaded up with carbs or fats (or both), fit this bill, bitter broccoli, does not.
The broccoli wars
Concerned Moms (and Dads) draw up battle plans which include
- Demanding the plate be cleaned
- Disguising the broccoli
- Evoking the help of superheros
- Waxing lyrical about the nutritional benefits
Name that food
Resturanteurs know, fancy descriptors make foods more attractive to adults, researchers wondered if the same approach could get the broccoli sliding down.
They tested out a few alternative descriptors of vegetable choices at a school cafeteria. 147 children, aged between 8-11 year olds from 5 different schools descended on a school lunchroom.
A carrot by another name
Carrots were on the menu on all three days, but on each occasion, they were presented to the children differently. The carrots were either
- The “Food of the Day”,
- “X-ray Vision carrots”
The name seemed to make little difference to the amount of carrots that was labelled onto the plates. But, when the plates returned to the kitchen, there was a big difference in the amount of carrots that had been consumed.
The kids ate 66 % of the X-ray vision carrots, 32 % of the Food of the Day carrots and 35 % of the unnamed carrots.
That is a lot more carrots going down.
Not just a carrot thing
To prove it wasn’t just a fluke result, the team took the name game to two suburban schools, but this time applied the “sexy” name idea, to the green vegetables, a much tougher sell than carrots.
Broccoli morphed into “Power Punch Broccoli” and “Tiny Tasty Tree Tops” and green beans became “Silly Dilly Green Beans’’.
Both schools ate ordinary vegetables in the first month, but in the second month, children in one school got to eat “sexy greens”, while the menu remained unnamed in the second, control, school.
Vegetable purchases went up by 99 % in the school offering “sexy greens”, while in the school serving ordinary unnamed greens, vegetable sales actually declined by 16 %.
Give those vegetables star status
Load up your little one’s plate with extra special vegetables.
Packaging counts when it comes to vegetables.Attractive Names Sustain Increased Vegetable Intake in Schools. Preventive Medicine (2012) 55(4): 330-332 Wansink, Brian, Just, David R., Payne, Collin R., & Klinger, Matthew.
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