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Appealing to values: This is how young people can be convinced of healthier food
Worldwide, more and more people are overweight or even obese. Many children and adolescents also eat unhealthy and are much too fat. Parents often do not know how to convince their children of healthier food. American scientists now have a new answer to this.
Teenagers love cola and chips
More and more people worldwide are overweight and obese. Many children and adolescents also eat an unhealthy diet and consume significantly too much sugar and fat. Cola, chips and Co are now popular among adolescents. But how do parents get their children to eat healthier foods? Researchers from the United States have an answer.
Nutrition campaigns specially tailored to young people
"Our goal was to present healthy eating as a way to position ourselves against injustice," report the scientists led by Christopher J. Bryan from the University of Chicago and David Yeager from the University of Texas in a report in the specialist magazine "EurekAlert!" .
Indeed, nutritional campaigns tailored specifically for them are more effective in adolescents - at least a little, the US psychologists write in the journal "Proceedings" of the US National Academy of Sciences ("PNAS").
Values that are strong in adolescents
According to the researchers, one should appeal to values that are particularly pronounced in adolescents, such as social justice. General information about healthy eating, on the other hand, would bring little.
According to a report by the dpa news agency, the scientists had carried out their experiments in two consecutive years on a total of 536 eighth-grade students from a middle school in Texas.
The adolescents got to read texts denouncing methods of the food industry - for example, that they give packaging the appearance that unhealthy foods are healthy. It turned out that at a school party that took place shortly afterwards, these pupils used unhealthy food and drinks a little less often than their peers, who were more generally or not informed at all.
Methods that fruit in children remain unsuccessful in adolescents
"A major limitation of current theories in behavioral research is their inability to provide strategies that bring about internalized changes in adolescent eating preferences," said the researchers. In adolescents, psychological approaches that worked in children were unsuccessful. The psychologists therefore decided to specifically address youthful values.
Some of the participating teenagers got to read articles that dealt with methods of the food industry, for example that they produce products that have a certain addictive potential or that their advertising is aimed particularly at children and poor people. Other students received neutral information about health and nutrition, and some were given no information at all.
Young people resort to healthier foods because of certain information
The psychologists found that the journalistic articles had an effect: the students who read them immediately answered questions in questionnaires more strongly than the other study participants, saying, "When I eat healthily, I feel that I am taking control of my eating habits. "-" If I eat healthy, I do my part to protect children controlled by food companies. "-" I respect healthy eaters more than unhealthy eaters. "
A day after the survey, there was a celebration that offered both rather unhealthy foods and drinks such as cookies and soft drinks, and more healthy ones like fruit and water. So that the students could not establish a connection with the surveys, the school director announced the celebration weeks earlier.
This showed that the adolescents who had read the journalistic articles chose an average of 2.13 unhealthy portions, but the other students chose 2.3. It made no difference whether students received general information about health and nutrition or none at all.
Around 15 percent of German children and adolescents are too fat
According to information from the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA), around 15 percent of children and adolescents in Germany are overweight. According to the Working Group on Obesity in Children and Adolescents, 8.5 percent of 14- to 17-year-olds even suffer from severe overweight with pathological changes in their metabolism (obesity).
According to the BZgA, the health consequences are changes in blood values, lower physical fitness and faster wear and tear of joints. In addition to a high-fat and sugar-rich diet, too little exercise, too little or irregular sleep and stress, hereditary factors are also partly the causes. (ad)