X-Ray Vision Carrots Get Children To Choose Healthier Eating
September 17, 2012

X-Ray Vision Carrots Get Children To Choose Healthier Eating

Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online

It is a common fact that many kids cringe at the thought of eating veggies, such as broccoli and carrots. But what if these vegetables had exciting new names, like “Power Punch Broccoli” and “X-ray Vision Carrots?” Previous studies have revealed that people go for descriptive dishes over plain-old foods, but can children be influenced to eat their vegetables using this technique?

To try and answer this question, four Cornell researchers, Brian Wansink, David Just, Collin Payne and Matthew Klinger, conducted studies to see if changing a vegetable´s name to something more appealing could influence kids to eat their vegetables.

In the first of two studies, researchers transformed plain old carrots into “X-ray Vision Carrots.” The study involved 147 students ranging in age from 8 to 11 from 5 ethnically and economically diverse schools. During the experiment, lunch menus stayed the same except the carrots were added on three consecutive days. On the first and last day the carrots remained just plain old carrots. On the second day, the carrots were served as either “X-ray Vision Carrots” or “Food of the Day.”

While the researchers didn´t calculate the amount of carrots eaten, they did count how often these vegetable were chosen. They found by changing the name to “X-ray Vision Carrots,” sixty-six percent of the carrots were eaten, more than double the amount (32%) eaten when labeled as “Food of the day.” The team found that 35 percent of the carrots were eaten on both the first and last days they were served without any special naming.

The startling, yet exciting results prompted scientists to conduct a second larger study to see if the results could be replicated.

In study number two, carrots became “X-ray Vision Carrots” again, and broccoli got renamed “Power Punch Broccoli,” or “Tiny Tasty Tree Tops,” and green beans were renamed “Silly Dilly Green Beans.”

Researchers looked at food sales over two months in two NYC suburban schools. During the first month, both schools offered plain old veggies. During the second month, the veggies were renamed with the enticing monikers in only one of the schools (the treatment school), while the other continued receiving the standard-named veggies.

Of the 1,552 students involved, 47.8 percent attended the treatment school. The results of the experiment were exceptional: vegetable purchases went up 99 percent in the treatment school, while declining by 16 percent in the other school.

The results of the study indicate that using enticing names on healthy foods can increase a kid´s selection and consumption of these foods and that attractive naming can be an effective intervention in getting kids to eat healthier without spending loads of money to market and launch healthy eating campaigns.

The researchers said it is also important to note that this study confirms that using alternative naming to market healthy food works across the board for all individuals, young or old.