60-Second Science

Fun Veggie Names Ups Kid Intake

Renaming vegetables with fun titles in school cafeterias increased how much healthful food kids ate. Christopher Intagliata reports

The Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act recently went into effect, which requires at least one serving of fruits or veggies on kids' school lunch trays. But how do you get the kids to actually eat those veggies? Well, one way seems to be to simply jazz up what they’re called. For example, instead of carrots how about offering "X-ray vision carrots"? When researchers tried that in five New York elementary schools, kids ate twice as many of Bug Bunny’s favorite food.

A second experiment at two more schools dealt with broccoli and green beans—two deeply unpopular items. But when renamed to "Tiny Tasty Tree Tops" and "Silly Dilly Green Beans," veggie consumption again doubled. Those results appear in the journal Preventive Medicine. [Brian Wansink et al., Attractive names sustain increased vegetable intake in schools]

But the cool names would need to be just one tool in the fight to influence kids. Because even at the end of the study, only five percent of the kids were asking for broccoli or green beans—up from two percent before. Nevertheless, it's a start. With a name like "Tiny Tasty Tree Tops," maybe broccoli has a better chance at avoiding the “kooky, crazy junk container.” Ya know—the garbage can.

—Christopher Intagliata

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]

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