Washington: A new study has revealed that calorie counting and weight-stigma prevent teens from eating healthy food.
Researchers observed whether or not photographs of vegetables on a school lunch tray had an impact on the amount of vegetables eaten. They found that placing photos of carrots and green beans did increase the amounts of vegetables eaten during lunch, but it still was not at levels consistent with government-recommended dietary guidelines.
Researchers at the University of Minnesota are now studying other simple methods that schools could utilize to encourage eating vegetables during lunch.
It gets tricky when trying to nudge teens in a similar direction, if only because they're notoriously uninterested in healthy eating, said Christopher Bryan, professor of psychology at the University of California at San Diego. Healthy eating practices have to be linked to something teens already care about.
Turns out, teens (just like their adult counterparts) care about the deceptive food marketing practices used to get them to eat junk food, including dishonest labeling.
Something that doesn't quite work to inspire healthy eating: counting calories and the negative way in which overweight and obese individuals are portrayed in the media. These strategies backfire, actually encouraging unhealthy choices and weight gain.
Researchers from UC San Diego and Santa Barbara will work to put forth strategies that remove high-calorie food temptation and the mere threat of stigma in order to inspire positive behaviors in kids and teens.
The study is published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.