Researchers in Washington are trying a new approach to the growing problem of childhood obesity. They plan to teach kids to be more media savvy — and less susceptible to all those junk food ads.
Researchers say kids who spend more time in front of the screen are at higher risk of becoming overweight. And it’s not just because they’re sitting on the couch.
“One of the problems is that there’s so much food advertising,” says Erica Austin. She heads Washington State University’s Center for Media and Health Promotion Research.
Austin says ads have a real impact on kids — and the nagging they do on their parents. So, she’s teaming up with other media and nutrition experts at Washington State and the University of Washington. They’re creating a program to teach kids media literacy skills.
“So, you’re looking at, for example, who made that message and why did they make that message,” Austin explains. “The point is that every message has been created by someone to achieve some sort of goal.”
The USDA gave the project a $2.5 million grant for the next five years. Researchers are developing classes for kids age 9 to 14 — and their parents — in a half-dozen counties across Washington.
On the Web:
Murrow Center for Media and Health Promotion Research (Washington State University)
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