Parents have been trying to get kids to eat better for years. Now, a study suggests that the answer could lie in your teen's rebellious attitude. In a new report published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, a team has analyzed how adolescent angst can be used to motivate healthier eating.
According to researcher Christopher J. Bryan of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business (and every parent ever), most young teens are prone to acting against authority figures and exhibit an above-average sensitivity level to injustice. So they set out to see if they could coerce teens into eating better by portraying better food choices as acts of rebellion. "Our goal here was to portray healthy eating as a way to take a stand against injustice—to stand up for vulnerable people who lack the ability to protect themselves," Bryan tells Medical News Today.
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To do this, the research team simply educated a eigth grades on how big food companies manipulate people into eating badly—by maximizing the addictiveness of junk food and marketing to young children and low-income populations. According to Bryan, "We framed healthy eating as a way to 'stick it to the man'—we cast the executives behind food marketing as controlling adult authority figures and framed the avoidance of junk food as a way to rebel against their control."