Funny food names help kids eat well

Giving healthy foods attractive names could make them more appealing to children, new research has suggested. Published by the Cornell University Food and Brand Lab, the study found youngsters are more likely to eat certain produce when its description is made more exciting.

For instance, the investigators discovered 66 per cent of carrots were consumed by kids when they were advertised as X-Ray Vision Carrots, while just 35 per cent of those left unnamed were eaten and 32 per cent labelled Food of the Day were too.

The team described the difference as "stupendous" and said one of the most exciting aspects of the findings is that changing names is easy to do and costs nothing.

Other name alterations included rebranding broccoli as Power Punch Broccoli and Tiny Tasty Tree Tops, while Silly Dilly Green Beans became the new moniker for regular green beans.

Following the alteration, vegetable purchases jumped by 99 per cent in a school that trialled the scheme for one month.

Chartered Psychologist Professor Marie Reid explained: "It is a fundamental principle of marketing that people will choose products with more appealing names over unbranded or own label products that are in all other ways identical, so it is interesting that the Cornell team have demonstrated this with vegetables in a school canteen. It is particularly promising that they have managed to show sustained increases in vegetable choices for a month, because it can be difficult to design interventions that achieve behaviour change in the longer term. I wonder whether the appeal of 'X-ray Vision Carrots' would last even longer, or whether it would gradually wear off?

More generally, this series of intervention experiments demonstrates the importance of making vegetables appealing to children, and indeed adults. Often, vegetables are presented in half-hearted ways, almost as after-thoughts to the meal. Indeed, I have observed that in Britain many kids menus in restaurants do not even bother to offer any vegetables, except perhaps peas. This deprives the child diners of the opportunity to try new things, which is very important for learning to eat a varied diet."