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Can rebranding make kids choose veggies over junk food?

When I was growing up, keeping tabs on junk food trends was nearly as important as wearing the latest fashions. (Acid washed jeans, anyone?) I distinctly recall when Cool Ranch Doritos became passe after a fellow student pulled a plastic baggie of Funyuns from his sack lunch. Funyuns, too, enjoyed a short run, and then the cafeteria crowd moved on, but it was never to fresh fruit or veggies.

Some producers are working to change those perceptions, however, by employing the same marketing used to push junk food to entice consumers to eat healthier. The Health Blog reports:

Carrot farmers are now advertising packaged baby carrots with the slogan, "Eat 'em like junk food." A Halloween promotion for the temporarily renamed "Scarrots" includes single-serving packages and "25 temporary glow-in-the-dark tattoos of masquerading baby carrot characters."

. . .Will kids be drawn to carrots marketed like Doritos? One study found that kids reported they preferred carrots (as well as graham crackers and gummy fruit snacks) in packages emblazoned with Dora the Explorer, Shrek and Scooby Doo to those in plain packages. But in contrast to the crackers and gummy snacks, kids didn't report that the carrots in the cartoon-endorsed packages tasted any better.

Although different branding may not alter the taste of fruits and veggies, it doesn't mean such tactics are futile in the effort to get kids to eat healthier. In a 2009 study, Cornell researchers found preschoolers gobbled up 62 percent more carrots when the vegetable was labeled as "x-ray vision carrots."

Previously: Using psychology to entice students to eat healthier and Persuading kids to make healthier choices in the lunchroom
Photo by woodley wonderworks

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