• Using Herbs and Spices to Increase Vegetable Intake Among Rural Adolescents

      Fritts, J.R.; Bermudez, M.A.; Hargrove, R.L. (Elsevier Inc., 2019)
      Objective: To test whether adding herbs and spices to school lunch vegetables increases selection and intake compared with lightly salted control versions among rural adolescents. Design: This study compared intake of vegetables with herbs and spices with lightly salted controls (phase I) and tested whether 5 repeated exposures would increase students’ intake of herb and spice seasoned vegetables (phase II). Participants and Setting: A total of 600–700 students at a rural middle/high school (age 11–18 years). Intervention: In phase I, herbs and spices were added to 8 vegetables and outcomes were compared with 8 control recipes. In phase II, the impact of repeated exposure to herb and spice blends served on different vegetables was assessed. Main Outcomes: Vegetable selection rates, weighed intake, and willingness to eat again. Analysis: Two-way ANOVAs tested effects of condition (herbs and spices vs control; before vs after exposure) and age (middle vs high school) on selection and intake. Results: In phase I, students ate more control than seasoned broccoli (P = .01), cauliflower (P = .006), and green beans (P = .01), and high schoolers generally consumed more seasoned vegetables than did middle schoolers (P < .03). In phase II, repeated exposure to herbs and spices increased reported willingness to eat again for seasoned broccoli (P = .003). Conclusions and Implications: In a short-term intervention, herbs and spices did not produce robust increases in school lunch vegetable intake among rural adolescents, but limited repeat exposure may increase students’ willingness to consume these flavors. Additional work is needed to identify individual and school-level characteristics that affect students’ willingness to select and consume vegetables with herbs and spices.