Giving vegetables labels that are flavourful, exciting and attractive, could increase their consumption, according to a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).
A team of researchers from Stanford University revealed that people consuming vegetables with attractive descriptions ate more of them than those described as healthy. Healthy foods routinely have fewer appealing descriptions than less-healthy options such as junk food.
The researchers therefore tested whether giving vegetables descriptions often used for less-healthy food would increase their consumption. Giving vegetables attractive labels resulted in 25 per cent more people choosing to eat them, over vegetables that had basic or healthy labels.
Health-focused labelling of food may be counteractive, as people rate foods that they perceive to be healthier as less tasty. Healthy labelling is even associated with higher hunger hormone levels after consumption compared with when the same meal is labelled indulgently.
“When most people are making a dining decision, they are motivated by taste. Labels can influence our sensory experience, affecting how tasty and filling we think food will be,” said Brad Turnwald, one of the researchers. Attractive food labeling can be implemented in cafeterias, restaurants, and factories to increase selection of healthier options.
The researchers say that further research is needed to explore the potential of indulgent labelling in alleviating the pervasive cultural mindset that healthy foods are not tasty and to increase the consumption of healthy options.