Scientists have finally cracked how to make healthy food more appealing – make it sound sexy.
A team at Stanford took over the university cafeteria, and found veggie sales went up by 25% when indulgent, “seductive” descriptions were used. Think “citrus-glazed carrots”, “crispy shallots” and “sizzlin’ beans”.
They also found that when “restrictive” healthy terms were used for veg cooked in the exact same way, like “carrots with sugar-free citrus dressing”, people were much less likely to eat it.
Previous research has shown that health-focused food labelling can be counter-effective, as people rate these foods as less tasty and even feel hungrier after eating them compared with when the same meal is labelled indulgently.
Lead author of the study, Bradley Turnwald, hopes the findings will help towards ending obesity and encourage people to make healthier choices.
“We have this intuition to describe healthy foods in terms of their health attributes, but this study suggests that emphasising health can actually discourage diners from choosing healthy options,” he said.
“Healthy foods can be indulgent and tasty, they just aren’t typically described that way,” he added.
“If people don’t think healthy foods taste good, how can we expect them to make healthy choices?”
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