Stealth Health - FamilyEducation

Stealth Health

April 15,2009
My husband is in product marketing. This is a new field for him, and the area of study for which he recently earned his MBA, so naturally the subject of marketing comes up from time to time. Through the limited amount of what I have learned through osmosis and our antecdotal conversations is this: marketing is part statistics and a whole lot of psychology. It stands to reason that the psyche is involved in marketing since many of our purchasing and life decisions aren’t based on pure reason, but lots of emotion too. Isn’t this true of how our children eat too? Sure, kids want food that tastes good to make their mouths happy (emotion), but at a certain point they understand that healthy food has its benefits (reason). But how does one balance the emotion and reasoning behind eating to help your kids, no matter what their age, make good, healthy decisions? A recent Newsweek article suggests that the solution may be in the marketing of food to kids. A Cornell University researched found that kindergarteners who were told carrots were “X-Ray vision carrots” ate 50 percent more than regular ole’ plain carrots. Another comment was made that descriptive labels such as “rich vegetable medley soup” may help increase the desirability of an item more than simply “vegetable soup.” I found this fascinating since we have been doing this sort of informal marketing of food to R and G even before SPH was in school learning about this discipline. R loves bacon, so often we will refer to ham as “bacon ham.” Or consider my cousin whose son loves hot dogs, but sausage, not so much…sausage is called “zesty hot dogs.” Or even a friend whose child loves french fries, but doesn’t touch any other type of potato…mashed potatoes become “mashed french fries.” All this marketing is great for young children, but I wonder how this marketing will affect future for them both? Next year R begins elementary school. While kindergarten is still half-day in our district, I know it won’t be long before he is staying for lunch and making his own lunch choices. Will he be a kid who throws half his lunch away? Will he use his lunch money to buy only treats? Or will the marketing of healthy foods be a valuable tool in helping him realize that there are certain foods that even grown-ups aren’t crazy about, but eat to keep our bodies well? Any advice from parents of school age children is welcome… SPC