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How to Get Teens to Eat Less Junk Food? Tell Them Eating Healthy is "Sticking It to the Man"

Want to fight the power? Eat more broccoli.

We all remember our teenage years. Well, ok, maybe they're fuzzier for some of us than for others, but they happened. It was that period of life when you felt a little bit invincible, a little bit misunderstood, and a little bit like every sad song on the radio was a part of the soundtrack to the morose, soul-searching indie movie that was your life.

Yikes, might’ve dug too deep there. The point is, when you’re a teenager you have a pretty unique worldview. It’s why teens love to rebel (just ask James Dean).

And now, at least according to a study coming outof the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, it’s possible to use that rebellious worldview to convince 16-year-olds to eat healthier. All you have to do is make them believe eating vegetables is anti-establishment. (Which, it turns out, is possible!)

As Science Daily reports, researchers working with 8th graders framed healthy eating as a way of rebelling against current food-industry marketing practices that encourage over-indulgence in junk foods. To really hammer things home, the researchers then talked about some of the calculated ways in which the industry targeted lower-income groups or young children with advertisements for particularly unhealthy products. By doing so, researchers framed eating healthy as an act of independence and a refusal to let “the system” manipulate their habits.

As one researcher explained “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.”

The result? A classroom full of 14-year-olds ready to rebel against BIG SODA.

In a similar experiment, researchers saw a seven percent increase in teens choosing water over sugary drinks. That’s no small feat: According to Science Daily, even a reduction that small can make a difference of about a pound of body fat every 6-8 weeks.

So there you have it, teens: Eating veggies is cool. Now, drop those French fries immediately (and give them to us, please, thanks).

 

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