Stylish Vegetable Names Encourage Healthy Eating

As the childhood obesity epidemic surges, there’s a push to battle the bulge before children ever have a chance to put on the weight.

More than 9 million Americans between the ages of 6 and 19 years old are considered obese, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Many believe encouraging activity and getting young people to eat healthier are key to reducing that number. But, as many parents know, persuading children to eat their vegetables can be tough.

Second-grader Addy Spence doesn’t like her veggies at all. When asked why, she didn’t give a reason.

“She has limited foods even within the fruits and meats. She likes plainer tasting food,” said Addy’s mother, Stephanie Spence. “We do encourage her to eat more vegetables, but usually it’s more bargaining at the dinner table.”

According to a study of pre-school-age eating habits out of Cornell University, 4-year-olds were more willing to eat vegetables like carrots if researchers gave them a cool name.

Some examples: X-ray vision carrots, tomato bursts and dinosaur broccoli trees. Parents are also encouraged to make up their own names like power peppers or super sonic snacks.

The study ultimately found that the 4-year-olds ate 50 percent more of the vegetables in later days, even after the special labeling was removed.

In a WISC-TV taste test, the technique worked for some children but not all. However, most children in this taste test were older than the original study group. Addy, for example, did prefer the X-ray carrots.

St. Mary’s Hospital dietitian Tammi Fumusa said adding a little something extra to vegetables can encourage kids to eat them. She suggests ranch dressing, French dressing, ketchup, and peanut butter.

“A little, not a lot. It shouldn’t be covered in it,” said Fumusa. “Give them some French dressing or something like that, just so they can munch on it if they’re eating the vegetables raw.”