We're all familiar with the concept of giving our parents a hard time once we hit that magical 'teen' phase. But while most parents are often fed up of their teens acting like crazy people and showing off their new rebellious phase, scientists have now found that this rebellious streak of theirs could actually be put to good use. Apparently, since teenagers have this natural drive to rebel, it can be utilised to get them to make healthier meal choices (Yay science!).
One of the major problems in combating junk food addiction is food marketing. Since major companies advertise their junk food in the most appealing way possible, young children are fooled into believing that this food can be healthy for them which is of course, far from the truth. So, for the study, the researchers decided to head to classrooms and asked children to read exposes about junk food. These exposes showed the kids how companies were manipulating them as marketers and were using deceptive product labels as well as targeting vulnerable audiences.
The researchers also gave another group of children some reading materials on healthy eating. When the results were compared, it was found that the kids who had been shown the expose were a lot more inclined to eat less junk food the next day as compared to the ones who had received materials on healthy reading. This shows that their natural rebellious streak was kicking in once they knew that something was bad for them. After this, students were also asked to be part of a campaign that sent them junk food images on iPads. These students were then asked to doodle or write on these images and turn them from false to true.
"Food marketing is deliberately designed to create positive emotional associations with junk food, to connect it with feelings of happiness and fun,” said one researcher. After this study, they found that the children continued boycotting sugary and junk foods for the remaining of their semester which was three months long. “One of the most exciting things is that we got kids to have a more negative immediate gut reaction to junk food and junk food marketing, and a more positive immediate gut reaction to healthy foods,” continued the researcher.
The researchers now hope that these methods can help prevent children from getting addicted to junk food early on in life and can possibly lead to them making better and healthier meal choices in the future also. Stay tuned for more updates.