Sexy labelling makes diners more likely to eat veg

Diners eat more vegetables when they're made to sound sexier, according to new research.

Tuesday, 13th June 2017, 11:45 am
Updated Thursday, 15th June 2017, 9:51 am
Enticing labels lead to 25 per cent more people selecting the vegetables than when basics words are used

The study shows that labels such as 'twisted citrus-glazed carrots' or 'sweet sizzilin' green beans and crispy shallots'' entice diners to tuck in.

And scientists say indulgent, descriptive phrases usually seen on burgers, crisps and biscuits could boost healthier eating.

Titles including 'dynamite chili and tangy lime-seasoned beets' led to higher sales in a large university cafeteria.

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The enticing labels led to 25 per cent more people selecting the vegetables than when basics words were used - such as plain old 'beets', 'green beans' or 'carrots'.

The effect was even greater (41 per cent) over 'healthy restrictive' alternatives like 'lighter-choice beets with no added sugar,' 'light 'n' low-carb green beans and shallots' or 'carrots with sugar-free citrus dressing.'

And 35 per cent more people chose the vegetables when they were made to sound colourful than when they were given 'healthy positive' labelling.

These included 'high-antioxidant beets', 'healthy energy-boosting green beans and shallots' or 'smart-choice vitamin C citrus carrots'.

Indulgent labelling also resulted in 23 percent more vegetables consumed compared with the basic formula - and 33 percent more than the 'healthy restrictive' method.

And there was a 16 percent increase compared with the 'healthy positive' labelling but the researchers said this finding was too small to be significant.

Psychologist Bradley Turnwald, of Stanford University in California, said: "Further research should assess how well the effects generalise to other settings and explore the potential of indulgent labelling to help alleviate the pervasive cultural mindset healthy foods are not tasty,"

The study published by JAMA Internal Medicine could lead to using enticing food labelling to make vegetables more appealing.

About two-in-three Britons fail to get the recommended five portions of fruit and vegetables a day which medical experts say is required to stay healthy.

The researchers believed using appetising words to describe vegetables could increase consumption because some perceive them as less tasty.

Data was collected each weekday for the 2016 autumn academic quarter at Stanford University.

Each day, one vegetable was labelled in one of the four ways - and the indulgent method did lead to making them much more popular.

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

Research assistants discretely recorded the number of diners who selected the vegetable and weighed the mass taken from the serving bowl.

During the study, 8,279 of 27,933 diners selected the vegetable.

The researchers said they were unable to measure how much food was eaten individually by cafeteria patrons - although people generally eat 92 percent of self-served food.