At the end of this post, you’ll find a link to an article in The Guardian, describing how the right approach can influence nutrition choices in young people.
It’s just common sense, and I find it regrettable that we haven’t discussed this topic at length before now.
The observations made by researchers at the University Of Texas Austin don’t apply only to teenagers. Many adults will also find it thought-provoking if it’s brought to their attention that their choices are being manipulated for profit. No one likes being taken advantage of.
Unfortunately, junk food is addictive, and not everyone who is hooked will clean up his or her eating habits after being enlightened. However, some harm can be prevented.
Note: Before you yell at your own children, “You listen to advertising, but you don’t listen to your mother,” remember how that would have sounded when you were fifteen. The Guardian article implies the study appealed to its subjects’ self-respect, not deference to authority. In fact, adolescent rebellion is mentioned as a factor in making this approach work.
Educating kids on how to make life choices involves honesty and level-headedness on the part of adults. On the surface, emphasizing long-term benefits of healthy food sounds good, but the study found that it isn’t effective.
Time passes more slowly for children and teenagers, and most of them don’t grasp the horror of suffering a life-changing or life-ending illness at age forty. I can remember high school classmates saying “We all die of something,” when they were told that smoking could kill them. They didn’t see that far in the future. Some of the girls smoked Virginia Slims, believing the ad slogan You’ve come a long way, baby.
In case you don’t remember the Virginia Slims ads, they combined glamour with feminism. They implied to women that chic clothes and the right brand of cigarettes would free them from male authority.