The influence of labeling the vegetable content of snack food on children’s taste preferences: a pilot study.
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OBJECTIVE: This pilot study examined whether informing children of the presence of vegetables in select snack food items alters taste preference.
METHODS: A random sample of 68 elementary and middle school children tasted identical pairs of 3 snack food items containing vegetables. In each pair, 1 sample’s label included the food’s vegetable (eg, broccoli gingerbread spice cake), and 1 sample’s label did not (eg, gingerbread spice cake). Participants reported whether the samples tasted the same, or whether they preferred one sample. Frequency of vegetable consumption was also assessed.
RESULTS: Taste preferences did not differ for the labeled versus the unlabeled sample of zucchini chocolate chip bread, χ(2) (2, n = 68) = 3.21, P = .20 or broccoli gingerbread spice cake χ(2) (2, n = 68) = 2.15, P = .34. However, students preferred the unlabeled cookies (ie, chocolate chip cookies) over the vegetable-labeled version (ie, chickpea chocolate chip cookies), χ(2) = (2, n = 68) 9.21, P = .01. Chickpeas were consumed less frequently (81% had not tried in past year) as compared to zucchini and broccoli.
CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: Informing children of the presence of vegetables hidden within snack food may or may not alter taste preference and may depend on the frequency of prior exposure to the vegetable.