New study finds simple way to inoculate teens against junk food marketing

phys.org | 3/26/2019 | Staff
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In a bid to fight obesity, public-health researchers have been trying for decades to find a way to convince teenagers to skip junk food and eat healthily, to little avail. One of the biggest obstacles is the enormous volume of food marketing kids are exposed to every day. That marketing is designed to foster strong positive associations with junk food in kids' minds and to drive overeating—and research has shown that it works.

Now, a new study from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business finds that a simple and brief intervention can provide lasting protection for adolescents against these harmful effects of food marketing.

Study - Intervention - Adolescents - Effects - Food

In the study, "A Values-Alignment Intervention Protects Adolescents from the Effects of Food Marketing," published today in Nature Human Behaviour, Chicago Booth's Christopher J. Bryan, University of Texas at Austin's David S. Yeager, and Booth Ph.D. candidate Cintia P. Hinojosa find that reframing how students view food-marketing campaigns can spur adolescents, particularly boys, to make healthier daily dietary choices for an extended period of time. The method works in part by tapping into teens' natural desire to rebel against authority.

Among the two biggest findings in the experiment: The intervention produced an enduring change in both boys' and girls' immediate, gut-level, emotional reactions to junk food marketing messages. And teenage boys, a notoriously difficult group to convince when it comes to giving up junk food, started making healthier food and drink choices in their school cafeteria.

Things - Kids - Gut - Reaction - Junk

"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," said Bryan.

A preliminary study took place among eighth graders at a Texas middle school in 2016. The researchers went into classrooms and had one group of...
(Excerpt) Read more at: phys.org
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