Can the “gross out” factor make our children healthy?

Advertising. It starts the minute you are born and continues until you die. Advertising geared towards kids is often under fire for its influence and promotion of the latest and greatest toys and unhealthy junk food.

This research shows that preschoolers can recognize brand names…that’s no surprise. My boys can recite commercials and tag lines, and not just kid’s stuff either. “Bud Light is drinkability,” my six-year-old said as we passed the alcoholic beverage section at my local grocery store.

Then I ran across this article in the Kansas City Star:

Campaign against childhood obesity could take lessons from success of the anti-smoking effort

It’s no secret childhood obesity has become a major issue in the United States. One out of three children under the age of 18 is overweight. First Lady Michelle Obama is taking charge and has developed the Let’s Move campaign in hopes of solving the issue of childhood obesity in one generation.

The article indicates that maybe advertising focused on the gross factor can help, similar to the anti-smoking ads of recent years that told the tale of bad breath, yellow teeth and other unhealthy consequences of smoking. These ads may have helped significantly reduce the number of eighth-graders who reported smoking from 21 percent in 1996 to 6.5 percent in 2009. That’s a reduction of 70 percent!

So, can we do the same for junk food?

Consider this ad by the New York Health Department:

Can the gross out factor help our children become healthy eaters?

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