Jazz up your description of vegetables and people will eat more!

Would you prefer healthy carrots or twisted citrus-glazed carrots?

Jazz up your description of vegetables and people will eat more! blog image


Jazz up your description of vegetables and people will eat more!

Do you have trouble getting your kids to eat vegetables or even your fussy friends?

With vegetable consumption high on the governments' agenda for a healthier population and the 5-A-Day initiative a part of our daily life, how do we get people to eat more vegetables?

Well research from Stanford University last year shows that if you jazz up your description of veg, people will eat more.

After all what sounds better ‘green beans’ or ‘sweet sizzlin’ green beans’ or how about ‘twisted citrus glazed carrots’ rather than plain old ‘carrots’.

What the researchers did

The researchers from Stanford University wanted to find out if using indulgent descriptive words and phrases typically used to describe less healthy foods would make people eat more vegetables.

‘The Ranch California Chicken with Beechwood Smoked Bacon’ sounds better than ‘a chicken and bacon burger’, but would that work with vegetables?

So each day, one vegetable in the university cafeteria was labelled in 1 of 4 ways:

1. Basic (e.g., beets, green beans or carrots)
2. Healthy restrictive (e.g., "lighter-choice beets with no added sugar," "light 'n' low-carb green beans and shallots" or "carrots with sugar-free citrus dressing")
3. Healthy positive (e.g., "high-antioxidant beets," "healthy energy-boosting green beans and shallots" or "smart-choice vitamin C citrus carrots")
4. Indulgent (e.g., "dynamite chili and tangy lime-seasoned beets," "sweet sizzilin' green beans and crispy shallots" or "twisted citrus-glazed carrots")

Although the labelling changed, there were no changes in how the vegetables were prepared or served.

The researchers then recorded the number of diners who selected the vegetables and the weight of the vegetables taken from the serving bowls.

The result

25% more people selected the indulgently labelled veg compared to basic labelled and then ate 23% more.

Interestingly the indulgent sounding vegetables were selected by 41% more people than the healthy restrictive and 35% more than the healthy positive labelling. While they ate 33% and 16% more respectively of the indulgently labelled veg.


The conclusion to this is that people will choose more veg and eat more veg if it sounds indulgent than if it’s labelled basic or surprising to me, healthy!

What about feeding the kids then? 

Although this research was done with adult students and teachers, could this approach work with kids?

Would they prefer ‘X-ray Vision Carrots’ or ‘Power Punch Broccoli’?

What do you think; would it work with your kids?

Surya Wright

Surya Wright

Co-founder, production manager

I'm our communications and marketing person, dealing with social media and copywriting. I also work with Matt and Ric overseeing the design and strategic management of the site. I'm also the author of the Eva the Hungry Amoeba children's book series (only one so far). You can find it on Amazon. My favourite foods, shepherds pie and smoked haddock!

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