We devour healthy foods if they sound indulgent, study shows
If you want to make people eat broccoli, then make them want to eat the broccoli.
When vegetables were labeled as decadently as rich desserts, people ate significantly more of them than when they were dished under their basic names, a recent JAMA study found.
Researchers tapped one of the oldest marketing tricks in the book to see if they could get students and staff in a Stanford University cafeteria to eat more veggies. Each day, they served a featured vegetable that was labeled in one of four ways, including basic (just “corn” or “zucchini”) and indulgent (“rich buttery roasted corn” or “slow-roasted caramelized zucchini bites”), as well as using healthy-restrictive (“reduced-sodium”) and healthy positive (“vitamin-rich”) terms.
There was actually no difference how the vegetables were prepared.
And they found that 25% more people picked the veggie with the indulgent label over the basic label, even though the two dishes were exactly the same. And even more people (41%) chose the veggie dish when it sounded indulgent over when it sounded healthy-restrictive, and 35% chose the more delicious-sounding dish over the healthy-positive one.
“Our results represent a robust, applicable strategy for increasing vegetable consumption in adults: using the same indulgent, exciting, and delicious descriptors as more popular, albeit less healthy, foods,” the researchers wrote. “This novel, low-cost intervention could easily be implemented in cafeterias, restaurants, and consumer products to increase selection of healthier options.”
It backs a 2011 Stanford study dubbed “Mind Over Milkshakes” that found people who were told they were sipping a high-fat, high-calorie “indulgent” shake reported feeling more satisfied afterward than when they thought they were drinking a low-fat, low calorie “sensible” smoothie. In fact, both shakes were identical.
And another recent study found that people will enjoy the taste of wine better – and will be willing to pay up to 37% more for a bottle – if it features a descriptive label, such as touting the wine’s “velvety creaminess.”
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