Eat Smart Play Hard: Scaring Kids with Counting Calories?
Posted Dec 23 2008 9:15pm
Do we want kids to think that fatty and sugary foods will kill them? Do we really want them to fear food?
These questions rumbled around in my head after reading Sandy at Junk Food Science who took on the issue of kids and diets, in this case, Eat Smart Play Hard, an anti-obesity program funded by the United States Department of Agriculture, that uses fear to promote healthy eating. Sound like a good approach? As a psychologist, I'd argue that fear messages do little to promote healthy behavior. There's a few decades of research showing just this - just ask the folks who study drug and alcohol prevention or smoking or safe sex.
Of course I'm also concerned about the negative emphasis on food - are we setting some kids up for eating disorders?
Seems the program also assumes that children think and act like small adults. Some of the information is far beyond what younger children can comprehend - like counting calories.