How do you get kids to eat their carrots in the cafeteria? Don't call them carrots — call them "X-ray Vision Carrots." New research out of Cornell University finds that catchy names can prompt kids to eat more veggies.
The first part of the study involved 147 students, ages 8 to 11 years old, from five different schools. For three days in a row, carrots were added to the schools' lunch menu, but on the second day, the carrots were served as either "X-ray Vision Carrots" or "Food of the Day."
The different names did not change the amount of carrots the students put on their plates. But the kids ate 66 percent of the "X-ray vision carrots," compared with 32 percent of "Food of the Day" carrots and 35 percent of unnamed carrots, according to a statement from Cornell.
The next part of the study involved 1,552 kids at two neighboring suburban schools in New York. Unnamed carrots, broccoli and green beans were offered on both cafeteria menus for the first month. Then in the second month, one of the schools changed the veggies' names to "X-ray Vision Carrots," "Punch Broccoli," "Tiny Tasty Tree Tops" and "Silly Dilly Green Beans." The researchers said vegetable purchases went up by 99 percent in that school, while veggie sales declined by 16 percent in the other school.
The research, led by Brian Wansink, director of the Cornell Food and Brand Lab, will be published in a forthcoming issue of the journal Preventive Medicine.