The World of the Veggiefruities

The World of the Veggiefruities is a Dutch health intervention program stimulating young children to taste and eat more fruit and vegetables. The intervention is based on a 4-year research project conducted at the University of Amsterdam and Radboud University Nijmegen. It is developed in collaboration with Bitescience and with support from the Netherlands Organisation for Scientfic Research (NWO).

“The World of the Veggiefruities” makes fruit and vegetable consumption for children younger than 7 more appealing through storytelling methodologies. The Veggiefruities, a group of animated animal characters who love to eat fruit and vegetables, come to life in stories via a multimedia environment (eBooks, interactive website, and hand puppets). 

The classroom intervention was launched in the Spring of 2014. Four of the stories can be read to preschoolers in class through Storycard Theater books that were developed in collaboration with the city of Rotterdam. For the home environment, parents and caretakers can download the four stories as eBooks from the program's website. Currently, accompanying hand puppets are being developed and tested that may be implemented in the fall of 2015 as part of a new toddler edition. Furthermore, four new stories are being developed.

More information: 


Short summary of the research project

Worldwide the number of overweight children rises dramatically. One way to prevent overweight is by creating healthy eating habits from a very young age. The “World of the Veggiefruities” is based on a research project exploring whether and how 4-to-6-year-olds’ fruit and vegetable choices can be stimulated by using an immensely popular marketing technique: cartoon characters. Specifically, three empirical studies among a total of 542 preschoolers investigate the impact of characters on packaging and in pictures books. The project’s results present two relatively easy and fun ways to stimulate children’s fruit and vegetable choices: (1) by placing a character on the package that fits conceptually with the fruit or vegetable in the package, and (2) by interactive shared reading of a picture book about a character eating a certain fruit or vegetable. By demonstrating how and under which conditions a character is most effective, this research provides essential information needed for the development of successful health interventions for young children.


Principal researcher: 

S.M. de Droog

Title of dissertation: Establishing and Explaining the Impact of Characters on Young Children’s Healthy Food Choices
Duration of project: 2008-2012

Publications:

De Droog, S. M., Buijzen, M., & Valkenburg, P. M. (2014). Enhancing children’s vegetable consumption using vegetable-promoting picture books: The impact of interactive shared reading and character-product congruence. Appetite, 73, 73-80. Bitescience Research Update

De Droog, S. M., Buijzen, M., & Valkenburg, P. M. (2012). Use a rabbit or a rhino to sell a carrot? The effect of character–product congruence on children's liking of healthy foods. Journal of Health Communication, 17, 1068-1080. Bitescience Research Update

De Droog, S. M., Valkenburg, P. M., & Buijzen, M. (2011). Using brand characters to promote young children's liking of and purchase requests for fruit. Journal of Health Communication, 16, 79-89. Bitescience Research Update