Teens Eating Broccoli to Rebel Against Authority, Says Study

9/21/2016

We live in a world of many injustices, and adolescents are especially vulnerable to them. A new study has found that when teenagers are made aware of the questionable marketing tactics of the food industry, they ate healthier - even when they didn't realize their eating habits were being tracked.


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Teenage rebellion being harnessed as a power for good.


This double-blind, placebo-controlled study called "Harnessing Adolescent Values to Motivate Healthier Eating," found that teens are motivated to take a stand against the manipulations of the food industry.

When given the information that junk foods are engineered to become addictive, and that they are disproportionately marketed to the children and the poor, teens do what they do best - rebel. 

"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." said Christopher J. Bryan of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, a co-author of the study. 

After the eighth graders were told of deceptive labeling and junk food engineering, there was a 7% drop in sugary soda consumption and an 11% increase of instances of which the teens chose a healthy snack (fruit, vegetables, or nuts) over junk food.

While these may not seem like huge numbers, extrapolated over time and the entire teenage population, it could mean a big reduction in the instances of obesity in teens. 

The 7% drop in simple carbohydrate consumption would equal a loss (or non-gain) of one pound of body fat per 6 weeks in boys and 8 weeks in girls. 

Harnessing the natural teenage tendency to rebel and feel a moral importance by taking the higher ground, an exposé of "big food" might pack quite the punch for childhood obesity.




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