Learning Junk Food Marketing Manipulates, Teens Consume Less

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Healthy eating can be a challenge when millions of dollars are spent everyday trying to convince us to eat junk food. It turns out that telling the truth to teens may help them eat healthier. Informing teens about the financing and exploitation that goes into big food gets them to think critically about the marketing and rebel against it. Plus, starting healthy eating practice in the teenage years sets them up for a lifetime of health.

In the study, “A Values-Alignment Intervention Protects Adolescents from the Effects of Food Marketing,” published today in Nature Human Behaviour, Chicago Booth’s Christopher J. Bryan, University of Texas at Austin’s David S. Yeager, and Booth PhD candidate Cintia P. Hinojosa find that reframing how students view food-marketing campaigns can spur adolescents, particularly boys, to make healthier daily dietary choices for an extended period of time. The method works in part by tapping into teens’ natural desire to rebel against authority.

Among the two biggest findings in the experiment: The intervention produced an enduring change in both boys’ and girls’ immediate, gut-level, emotional reactions to junk food marketing messages. And teenage boys, a notoriously difficult group to convince when it comes to giving up junk food, started making healthier food and drink choices in their school cafeteria.
“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,” said Bryan.

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Yogic Breathing Looks Gross but can be Good

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Breathing is naturally good for you and you’re hopefully doing it right now. Interestingly there are different levels of breathing with different effects on our health. Most of us who site around all day at computers are likely breathing too shallowly and not getting complete breaths. Those of you who’ve been to yoga might know the importance of deep breathing. That is taking long, deep, breaths using the diaphragm for a serious amount of time. Early research is examining what positive effects this type of deep breathing can have on our health.

Q: What made you examine this technique through a cellular biology lens?
A: In 2005, I noticed while I was practicing pranayama, I was producing so much saliva that I was almost drooling. I wondered why and what the overall impact of that was. This led me and my team to study whether increased saliva production was a common response to the practice, and we found that it was.
Q: Most people wouldn’t think much of getting spitty when they focus on breathing and relaxing. But your 2016 study in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine showed this bump in salivation seems to matter. Why?

A: Saliva has numerous antibodies and proteins that do everything from suppressing tumors to regenerating the liver. For example, it contains immunoglobulin, which are antibodies that bind to germs, as well as DMBT1, a tumor suppressor that blocks the conversion of normal cells to cancer cells.

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Active People Naturally Crave Healthier Foods

Want to eat healthier but lacking motivation? Start being more active and you’ll find that picking healthier foods will get easier. A least that’s what participants found in a recent study, and there’s no reason to expect different results for you. Researchers took people who had a sedentary lifestyle and just asked them to workout a little. Without instructions the participants started to eat healthier just because they were more active.

“The process of becoming physically active can influence dietary behavior,” said Molly Bray, corresponding author of the paper and chair of the Nutritional Sciences department at UT Austin and a pediatrics faculty member at Dell Medical School. “One of the reasons that we need to promote exercise is for the healthy habits it can create in other areas. That combination is very powerful.”

“Many people in the study didn’t know they had this active, healthy person inside them,” Bray said. “Some of them thought their size was inevitable. For many of these young people, they are choosing what to eat and when to exercise for the first time in their lives.”

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Don’t Clean Your Plate

fruit store

Many of us were raised with mentality of “cleaning” our plate at the end of the meal; basically, it means finishing all the food on your plate. Some researchers wondered if this leads to unhealthy overconsumption of food, and indeed it does. There’s some simple things you can do to avoid eating too much like making smaller servings, not finishing everything just because it’s on your plate, and you can just use smaller plates.

“Many of us were raised with this ‘clean your plate’ mentality, stemming from a desire to ensure one is not being wasteful or their children are eating well; however, this can also lead to overconsumption,” Haws said. “So, one could argue that good advice for someone trying to manage their food intake would be not to clean their plate.”
Haws and her co-authors were interested in exploring how the clean-plate phenomenon, called “consumption closure,” affects our desire to keep eating more than we should or want to when there’s just a small amount left, “The questions we had were: Is there something special about having this small quantity left over, and what processes do people use when justifying continued consumption or deciding whether or not to continue consuming?”

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Sick Days are Worth it

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Showing up to your workplace sick isn’t good for anyone, yet people do it anyway. Obviously, the sick person would rather stay home to heal and feel better (nobody plans on getting their peers ill). Why is it then that we all go to work when we should stay at home? A major factor in people’s thinking is based on corporate policy and workplace culture – both things we can change. Some companies already provide unlimited vacation days to address this. If you’re sick, try to stay home; and if you’re not sick try to change your corporate policies or practices.

Sometimes, of course, it’s due to a martyr complex—the feeling that work cannot possibly go on without them, or a notion that they’ll get points for dragging themselves into work while sick.

If you don’t want people coming to work sick, don’t financially penalize them for staying home. When it’s a choice between paying the rent or staying home when they’re ill, most people will come to work, contagious or not.


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