Research Brief| Volume 44, ISSUE 2, P178-182, March 2012

The Influence of Labeling the Vegetable Content of Snack Food on Children's Taste Preferences: A Pilot Study

  • Author Footnotes
    † Lizzy Pope was affiliated with Columbia University at the time the study was conducted.
    Lizzy Pope
    Address for correspondence: Lizzy Pope, MS, RD, Nutrition and Food Sciences, 109 Carrigan Dr, 256 Carrigan Wing, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT 05405; Phone: (802) 656-4262
    † Lizzy Pope was affiliated with Columbia University at the time the study was conducted.
    Department of Animal, Nutrition, and Food Sciences, University of Vermont, Burlington, VT
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  • Randi L. Wolf
    Department of Health and Behavior Studies, Teachers College, Columbia University, New York, NY
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  • Author Footnotes
    † Lizzy Pope was affiliated with Columbia University at the time the study was conducted.
Published:January 24, 2011DOI:



      This pilot study examined whether informing children of the presence of vegetables in select snack food items alters taste preference.


      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.


      Taste preferences did not differ for the labeled versus the unlabeled sample of zucchini chocolate chip bread, χ2 (2, n = 68) = 3.21, P = .20 or broccoli gingerbread spice cake χ2 (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), χ2 = (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.

      Key Words

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