Healthy food labels tout health benefits, yet most people prioritize tastiness in the moment of food choice. In a preregistered intervention, we tested whether taste-focused labels compared with health-focused labels increased vegetable intake at five university dining halls throughout the United States. Across 137,842 diner decisions, 185 days, and 24 vegetable types, taste-focused labels increased vegetable selection by 29% compared with health-focused labels and by 14% compared with basic labels. Vegetable consumption also increased. Supplementary studies further probed the mediators, moderators, and boundaries of these effects. Increased expectations of a positive taste experience mediated the effect of taste-focused labels on vegetable selection. Moderation tests revealed greater effects in settings that served tastier vegetable recipes. Taste-focused labels outperformed labels that merely contained positive words, fancy words, or lists of ingredients. Together, these studies show that emphasizing tasty and enjoyable attributes increases vegetable intake in real-world settings in which vegetables compete with less healthy options.
Keywords: health; intervention; label; nutrition; obesity; open data; preregistered; vegetable.