Harnessing a Teenagers Defiant Attitude Works In Making Healthy Food Choices

September 14, 2016


The old adage that a teenager will do the exact opposite of what they're told to do can pay off in a healthier lifestyle, says one new study.  Apparently harnessing their natural tendency to be defiant works to get them to eat healthier! In a randomized trial, researchers assigned 489 eighth-graders at a Texas middle school, who were also scheduled for a celebration party that included healthy and junk food to test a theory.  They broke the teenagers into two groups and had them read an article about food.  In one group, the article explained how the body processes food and recommended a diet lower in sugars and fats.  The other group read an article about alleged cynical business practices of a food company in making unhealthy foods more addictive. The next day at the party, the kids who read the article about corrupt food company were more likely to choose healthy snacks like fruit and carrots instead of junk food. This new study compliments a similar approach the anti-smoking campaigns used in the 2000s, framing tobacco companies as corrupt, which was credited as being more effective in getting kids to not use tobacco than telling of the health risks of smoking.

SOURCE: Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States

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