Parents' fatigue can worsen during the school year, especially if moms and dads are losing sleep over the state of their children's health. As much as they would like to, parents don't know everything that their child does throughout the day, and that includes what they are eating for lunch. Even if you pack your child a healthy, balanced meal, there is no guarantee that they aren't going to swap it out for some of the less healthier options that are offered in the school cafeteria.
Recently, scientists from the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab discovered a new way to encourage kids to choose vegetables and fruits at lunch, and may be as simple as changing the way these foods are described.
A carrot by any other name…
The researchers set out to determine if changing the names of certain vegetables would make the foods more attractive to children. To test their theory, the scientists went to five different schools with students who ranged from age 5 to 11. They then added extra helpings of carrots to the school's menu. On certain days, carrots were referred to as "X-ray Vision Carrots" while on other days they were given no special title. The results of calling carrots a different name were astonishing.
On the days when carrots were simply carrots, only 35 percent of the vegetables were eaten. However, once referred to as "X-ray Vision Carrots" a whopping 66 percent were consumed.
It works on broccoli too
Carrots weren't the only vegetable that became more appealing with a slight name change. In a second study, researchers set out to improve the image of one of the most notoriously kid-hated veggies – broccoli. The cruciferous vegetable was called "Power Punch Broccoli" along with "Tiny Tasty Tree Tops." In the schools where the food was called by one of these nicknames, sales of vegetables went up by a remarkable 99 percent over the course of a month, while they declined by 16 percent in schools where it was simply called broccoli.
"These results demonstrate that using attractive names for healthy foods increases kid’s selection and consumption of these foods and that an attractive name intervention is robust, effective and scalable at little or no cost. Very importantly, these studies confirm that using attractive names to make foods sound more appealing works on individuals across all age level," concluded the study authors.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that one-third of all American children have an unhealthy weight, which is why encouraging healthy eating is so important.