Twisted citrus-glazed carrots! 'Indulgent' words help sell healthy food

14 June 2017 - 09:02 By The Daily Telegraph
Labelling vegetables with "indulgent" descriptions more evocative of fattening food may be the key to promoting healthier eating.
Labelling vegetables with "indulgent" descriptions more evocative of fattening food may be the key to promoting healthier eating.
Image: iStock

What sounds tastier - "green beans" or "sweet sizzlin' green beans", "corn" or "rich butter-roasted sweet corn"?

For the students of one US university at least, it was overwhelmingly the latter in both cases, causing psychologists to argue that labelling vegetables with "indulgent" descriptions more evocative of fattening food may be the key to promoting healthier eating.

A six-week trial in a student cafeteria found that luxurious sounding names for everyday vegetables prompted a 25% increase in uptake compared with the more basic description.

These also included "twisted garlic-ginger butternut squash wedges", "slow-roasted caramel-ised zucchini bites" and "twisted citrus-glazed carrots".

Researchers believe that by adopting the marketing approach used to sell unhealthy food like burgers and pizzas, schools can subconsciously make vegetables sound more appealing to children and young people.

They found that, while there was no change in how the vegetables were prepared or served, there was an even sharper increase in uptake - 35% - on days when an indulgent label was used compared with a label emphasising the food's nutritional qualities, such as "smart-choice vitamin C citrus carrots".