THIS easy trick could help your teens cut out junk food, says scientists

We all know that teenagers have their own ideas when it comes to, well, everything.

But having a healthy diet is something that is important and teens need to watch how much junk food they are putting into their bodies. 

However, a psychological trick could do the impossible and persuade young people to cut down on their intent - according to scientists.

Researchers at Chicago Booth University conducted a study with eighth graders at a Texas school.

One group of students read a fact-based, exposé-style article on big food companies.

Corporations were framed as manipulative marketers trying to hook consumers on addictive junk food for money.

A separate, control group of students read from existing health education programs about healthy eating benefits. 

Published in the journal Nature Human Behaviour, the findings show that reframing how teens see food-marketing campaigns can spur them, particularly boys, to choose healthier foods. 

So how does it work?

By tapping into teens’ natural desire to rebel against authority - and the teenage boys reduced their purchases of unhealthy food by 31% in three months after the study took place. 

Study author Christopher Bryan said, ''Food marketing is deliberately designed to create positive emotional associations with junk food, to connect it with feelings of happiness and fun.''

He continued, ''What we’ve done is turn that around on the food marketers by exposing this manipulation to teenagers, triggering their natural strong aversion to being controlled by adults. If we could make more kids aware of that, it might make a real difference.''

He added, ''One of the most exciting things is that we got kids to have a more negative immediate gut reaction to junk food and junk food marketing, and a more positive immediate gut reaction to healthy foods.''

David S. Yeager from the University of Texas at Austin agrees.

He said, ''This study shows it’s possible to change behaviour during adolescence using a light-touch intervention.''

He continued, ''Adolescence is a developmental stage when even the lengthiest health promotion approaches have had virtually no effect. Because so many social problems, from education to risky behaviour, have their roots in the teen years, this study paves the way for solutions to some of the thorniest challenges for promoting global public health.”

It's definitely something to keep in mind - anything to help teenagers eat better is a good thing. 

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