Using enticing food labeling to make vegetables more appealing

Using enticing food labeling to make vegetables more appealing

In study, people offered vegetables with an indulgent label ate around three times more than those offered the same meal with healthy eating packaging. According to new research from Stanford scholars, yes, indeed. Out of the nearly 28,000 diners, over 8,000 chose a vegetable dish across the experiment's duration.

So how do you get people to eat healthier?

Researchers found that indulgent labels like "dynamite, tangy beets" made people eat more vegetables than health-focused labels like "high-antioxidant beets".

To test the impact of labelling on the consumption of healthier food, researchers collaborated with the Stanford Residential & Dining Enterprises and conducted their study in a large dining hall on campus.

Turnwald and his team think this work can be used to motivate more people to eat more vegetables while dining out or picking food at the grocery store.

Comparing indulgent descriptions against each of the other kinds of labeling, researchers found that 25% more people selected the jazzier veggies than the basic ones; 41% more people than in the healthy restrictive labeling style; and 35% more than people in the health positive group.

Almost one-third of the nearly 28,000 diners chose a vegetable offering during the study.

Researchers at Stanford University in the United States carried out a six-week study at their university cafetaria. "They just aren't typically described that way".

Also, the indulgent labels resulted in a 23 percent increase in terms of the consumption of mass vegetables.

Some grocery stores have started labeling prepared foods as "healthy", or a "better choice".

The experiment took place over the autumn academic term with a vegetable dish labelled in one of four ways: basic - where the description was simply "carrots"; healthy restrictive - "carrots with sugar-free citrus dressing"; health positive - "smart-choice vitamin C citrus carrots"; and indulgent - "twisted citrus-glazed carrots".

The research, which was led by psychology graduate student Bradley Turnwald and Alia Crum, PhD, an assistant professor of psychology, suggests that instincts to label food as "healthy" may in fact dissuade diners from selecting them.

However, these findings could be the basis for a potentially effective strategy to answer a challenging question, researchers said.

"For instance, poorly cooked zucchini bites might be pushed onto the poor consumer once with fun language, but if they taste bad - are undercooked and not flavorful or overcooked and slimy - the consumer will steer clear of this choice on the next go 'round", Denke, who wasn't involved in the study, said by email.

"Labels really can influence our sensory experience, affecting how tasty and filling we think food will be".

"Further research should assess how well the effects generalize to other settings and explore the potential of indulgent labeling to help alleviate the pervasive cultural mindset that healthy foods are not tasty", the article concludes.

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