What are the effects of taste-focused and health-focused labeling in recipes on the tastiness and willingness to try new or unfamiliar foods?
To address the global issue regarding vegetable intake, much research has been done on successful interventions to promote healthier food choices. In particular, these studies examined what effects certain interventions (such as food labeling) had on the ratings of healthy foods. How these different types of interventions worked for unfamiliar healthy foods was still unknown. Therefore, this study examined the effects of taste- and health-focused labeling on the tastiness and willingness to try unfamiliar foods. A sample of 180 participants rated ten familiar and ten unfamiliar foods with a tasty, healthy or neutral description on the tastiness and willingness to try them. Participants also completed a questionnaire measuring their food neophobia level: the fear of trying unfamiliar foods. The participants were divided into three groups: (1) the total group of participants with no distinction made in the food neophobia level, (2) high food neophobes, and (3) low food neophobes. The results showed that only low food neophobes found familiar and unfamiliar foods tastier when presented with taste descriptions rather than healthy and neutral descriptions. However, this study did not find that taste descriptions increased the willingness to try unfamiliar foods for low food neophobes, compared to healthy and neutral descriptions. Also, the willingness to try and the tastiness of the vegetables were not rated differently based on the different description types for both high neophobes, and the total group of participants with no distinction made in the food neophobia level. Overall, this study highlights the potential influence of food neophobia on the perception and acceptance of new or unfamiliar foods. However, future research is conducive for a better understanding of the relationship between food neophobia and food labeling on the tastiness and willingness to try unfamiliar foods. This could ultimately improve interventions and communication strategies for promoting healthier eating habits.
Faculteit der Letteren