Have you noticed your 14 year old brother has a little more pectoral muscle than you remember the boys did in your middle school class? Check the pantry! Check the medicine cabinet! George may be drinking protein shakes or taking steroids. According to CNN Health, parents should be conscious that teens are trying to increase their body mass and strength to be like their idols. The Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics just reported that more teens are using muscle enhancing products. Survey data from 2793 diverse adolescents, muscle-enhancing behaviors were common among both boys and girls–34.7% used protein powders or shakes and 5.9% reported steroid use, average age 14.4. Sports team participation was highly correlated with usage.
As media images of men and women become increasingly muscular, we are seeing a rise in these behaviors. However, it is important to stress the right way to achieve these physiques. Parents must not buy these protein shakes or even energy drinks for their kids, according to Dr. Jennifer Shu, a pediatrician in Atlanta, but should make sure they are getting these nutrients from their diet.
There is a call for interventions to alert pediatricians, parents and coaches of this rise in usage, especially because these behaviors can lead excessive use and use of illegal substances.
However, it is important to emphasize the right way to enhance muscle- EXERCISING. While it is not the role of these idols to educate adolescents on proper health practices, they can lead by example. Look at First Lady Michelle Obama and Tennis Goddess Serena Williams.
In the midst of the current obesity epidemic, researchers are making no concessions on combating the deadly condition affecting millions. Much research has targeted ways to change the behaviors of children as a form of prevention and control. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) VERB campaign was a social marketing campaign to increase physical activity in children 9-13. First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move campaign is another example of using social media to communicate health messages. Their impact of childhood obesity? The verdict it still out.
However, this has not stopped the creative juices from flowing- Researchers at Cornell branded apples to get kids to eat them! Fast food restaurants and cereal brands use characters to entice kids daily to eat their foods. So, why don’t we use kid show characters too? By placing an Elmo sticker on apples, double the amount of kids chose the apple during lunch over cookies in this study.
Can we get Elmo on a 15 second commercial to say French fries are nasty and soda is gross? Or a commercial with Beyonce eating an apple? Well, the health message may not be clear to the recipient, but do we care as long as we get them to eat more apples and stop eating French fries and drinking soda? Maybe the National Institute of Health (NIH) should hire Mickey Mouse to help solve the obesity epidemic! We need all the help we can get.
Forget the old food pyramid (especially the tip, which represented sugary sweets, that no longer exists). Hello, MyPlate. First Lady Michelle Obama is a big supporter of the new icon. As she put it in a press release from the USDA,
“When mom or dad comes home from a long day of work, we’re already asked to be a chef, a referee, a cleaning crew. So it’s tough to be a nutritionist, too. But we do have time to take a look at our kids’ plates. As long as they’re half full of fruits and vegetables, and paired with lean proteins, whole grains and low-fat dairy, we’re golden. That’s how easy it is.”
On its website, the USDA tries to make nutrition straightforward by telling us to,
- Enjoy your food, but eat less
- Avoid oversized portions
- Make half your plate fruits and vegetables
- Make at least half your grains whole grains.
- Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.
- Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals — and choose the foods with lower numbers.
- Drink water instead of sugary drinks.
Do you think this plate will be more effective than the pyramid in helping Americans eat better? What communications strategies will work best to promote the plate? What besides communication will we need to use this as a tool to reduce obesity and poor nutrition?
Mrs. Obama’s “Let’s Move!” campaign was introduced to America one year ago as of this week. Upstream has posted various stories on this campaign against childhood obesity, like those about PSAs including Major League Baseball Players and front-of-package food labels.
This week, in honor of the one-year anniversary of her campaign to fight childhood obesity, Mrs. Obama embarks on a three-day publicity tour. According to the New York Times, this publicity stint will include the introduction of a public service announcement, appearances on the “Today” show and “Live with Regis and Kelly,” and delivery of a speech in Atlanta promoting gardening and healthy eating.
Food makers and grocers, guided by the Grocery Manufacturers Association and the Food Marketing Institute, made a sprint to the finish and beat the Food and Drug Administration in a big race. The race was to make rules about front-of-package labels on packaged foods.
The industry-designed voluntary labels are called "Nutrition Keys," and must include total calories, fat, sodium and sugar, but may also include one or two "positive" ingredients, such as calcium or fiber. Image provided by the Grocery Manufactures Association.
By preemptively striking before the federal government could take even more drastic measures, such as ban front-of-package labels (FOPs), some experts and policy makers fear consumers will only be more confused. I mean, who cares if a half-pint of ice cream has more than half a day’s recommendation for fat and sky-high amounts of sugar when it has calcium to strengthen your bones, right?