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Posts tagged ‘Childhood Obesity’

Lunchroom Politics or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Gushers

A variety of the General Mills' Fruit Gushers. You always pick out the red and green anyway.

During my childhood, namely throughout 90s and early 2000s, kids’ snacks were evolving. As always, cheap and pre-processed goodies were easily available in every grocery store, strategically placed on lower shelves and in bright, eye-catching packaging. However, it seems that a new trend took hold, whereby advertisers and the companies producing these packaged snacks began to re-brand their products to appear healthier and more nutritional while still maintaining the appeal of ‘kets‘.

Of course, it’s fair to say that notable examples like General Mills’ Fruit by the Foot, Fruit Rollups, Fruit Gushers, and many more were and still are convenient filler items for packing children’s lunches or as a midday snack requiring no more effort than a quick trip back into the house. Despite their names, they are little more (or no less) than glorified and gelled candies.
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How to Motivate Change Without the Stigma

Controversial "Stop Sugarcoating It Georgia" ad campaign

Controversial "Stop Sugarcoating It Georgia" ad campaign


Do anti-obesity advertisements effectively promote healthy lifestyles, or do they merely stigmatize ill-fated children who have grown up in unhealthy households? One recent news article, published by NPR correspondent Kathy Lohr, argues the latter.

Lohr’s argument centers around the “Stop Sugarcoating It, Georgia” ad campaign, which uses scare tactics similar to those found in anti-smoking and anti-methamphetamine advertisements, in an attempt to reverse the growing trend of childhood obesity in a state with “the second highest number of obese kids in the country.” Lohr claims that while the message of healthy living is an important one, the tactics being used may provide more harm than good, as they disparage the same children who are already made to feel inadequate through the perpetual teasing and bullying they endure both at school and on the playground.

In addition to being detrimental to a child’s self-esteem, these advertisements may actually promote the exact behavior that they are trying to prevent, as Georgia State University professor Rodney Lyn states, “we know that stigmatization leads to lower self-esteem, potential depression. We know that kids will engage in physical activity less because they feel like they’re going to be embarrassed. So there are all these other negative effects.” So the question becomes, why does society continue to employ stigma as a motivator for change, when positive reinforcement has proven itself a much more effective tool?

In relation to class discussion, this is very much the same question brought up by the Free to Be story, “Ladies First,” where a young girl is eaten by a group of tigers due to her inability to recognize the negative consequences of her condescending and stuck-up attitude. “Ladies First,” similarly to Georgia’s anti-obesity campaign, focuses on a child’s negative quality, rather than a positive one, which may lead to many children thinking that they are inherently flawed in some way, when in reality, the problem may be caused more directly by the child receiving poor parenting than by the child itself. This potentially damaging effect of children viewing themselves as flawed may be the reason that “this ‘bad’ female subject [was] somewhat unusual for the Free to Be series, which [tended] to celebrate conventional images of bold and adventurous girls rather than to condemn conventional ones” (235). But if that is the case, it would seem to be in everyone’s best interest to focus solely on children’s positive attributes, rather than negative ones. That way, an obese or overly bratty child will be more inclined to change, as they won’t see themselves as holistically flawed individuals, but rather they will be able to isolate the problem, making change seem far more attainable.



Affects of TV on Kids


As a child, I spent a lot of my time watching television.  It was kind of a baby sitter because my mother was really sick when I was growing up.  My twin sister and I used to look forward to shows like Sesame Street or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles .  We used our time watching television as a way to just stay out of trouble, and out of our parents hair, God knows they had more important things to deal with.  In Lynn Spigel’s, Welcome to the Dreamhouse, she quotes one of the first and most influential book-length studies of the affects of television and children, which reported “that by 1961 sixth graders spent almost as much time watching television as they did in school.” These numbers seem staggering, since parents now a days talk about how they used to spend all their time outside, and come down on kids these days because all they want to do is watch television or play video games.  In my opinion, kids now a days spend WAY too much time watching television or on the computer.  Kids are suppose to be outside running around, getting into trouble, and staying active. According to, kids and teens 8 to 18 years spend nearly 4 hours a day in front of a TV screen and almost 2 additional hours on the computer (outside of schoolwork) and playing video games.  This is most likely contributing to the fact that childhood obesity has tripled in the last 30 years, according to the Center of Disease Control.

The most important thing to remember is that it is the parents responsibility to limit the time kids spend watching television, and to dictate what their child is doing on a day to day basis.  If you’re kid isn’t active enough, take them outside and kick a soccer ball with them, or take them to the park.  When did it become not fun to go to the park?  When I was a kid I always missed out on that kind of stuff.