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Can’t get your kid to eat veggies? Try rebranding them

Every parent knows how hard it is to get kids to eat their veggies. There is a whole corner of the Internet devoted to advice on the subject. Some suggest being sneaky about it, hiding greens in more palatable foods, while others encourage parents to add some razzmatazz to entice youngsters. Just thinking about this stuff makes me so tired I just want to order pizza and turn my brain off.

But new research from the world of food psychology suggests success may just depend on parents embracing their inner marketers. Kids may not love carrots, but that changes when they're given a plate of "X-ray Vision Carrots."

In two separate studies, Cornell University researchers Brian Wansink, David Just, Collin Payne and Matthew Klinger confirmed what many desperate moms and dads may have discovered for themselves: kids are suckers – perhaps that should be "eaters" – when it comes to jazzed up names, the school's Food and Brand Lab reports.

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In the first study, 147 kids who ranged from eight to 11 years old were given the option of eating carrots on three consecutive days. The lunchroom menu on the first and third days listed them as plain old "carrots." But on the second day, they were listed as either "Food of the Day" or "X-ray Vision Carrots."

How big of an impact did the new name have? According to researchers, 66 per cent of the carrots were eaten on when they were labelled "X-ray Vision Carrots" compared with just 32 per cent when listed as "Food of the Day" and 35 per cent when not given a special name.

In the second study, researchers looked at food sales over two months at two different New York schools. At one school, vegetables remained plain old vegetables. At the other, carrots were rebranded "X-ray Vision Carrots," green beans morphed into "Silly Dilly Green Beans," and broccoli became both "Power Punch Broccoli" and "Tiny Tasty Tree Tops."

Vegetable sales at the rebranded school jumped 99 per cent while sales at the other school dropped 16 per cent, according to researchers.

So the next time your child refuses to eat Brussels sprouts, try instead feeding them Super Brain Muscles Brussels Sprouts. At least give it a try before you pick up the phone and order Sad Defeatist I Just Can't Be Bothered To Fight Them Any More On This Pizza.

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About the Author

Dave McGinn writes about fitness trends for the Life section and also reports for Globe Arts. Prior to joining the Globe, he was a freelance journalist, covering topics from trying to eat Michael Phelps' diet to why the Joker is the best villain in comics history. He's working on improving his 10k time. More

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