Sunday, May 11, 2008

healthy role models

Objective: So let’s say that you are Kraft or any other food co. that wants to get kids to start eating your healthy foods early on.

Things to know about your audience :
- Kids in school learn about healthy eating and can tell you what it means to eat healthily.
Kids want to be healthy and understand the value of it, the missing link is guidance.

We’ve all heard about the obesity rate amongst kids in the U.S. and fingers have been pointed at parents or marketers, but I believe we are looking in the wrong place to find the solution. Let’s think about kids this way:

Kids are the influencers
Yes, we all know that when marketing to kids there is the secondary audience of parents. We also know that when kids are told to do things, like eat healthily, they don’t want to follow directions.

Now let’s talk about Parents and following directions
The reason that parents are the secondary target is because of the influence that a child has on their purchasing decisions. Parents don’t just choose to buy their kids bags of chips over apples, they do so because they know that their child will be more likely to eat the chips. Kids have amazing influence over their parents. Just take a look at former-smoker blogs and you will see that children are a huge motivator in quitting. A message from your child to please quit smoking is a lot more motivating than a warning label from a governing body. It’s funny how a small-soft voice can inspire change so dramatically in comparison to red-bold and all-caps. It reminds me of the Teddy Roosevelt quote “speak softly, but carry a big stick.”

So now, rather than parents forcing broccoli down childrens’ throats, how about giving the spoon to the child?

My Challenge
My challenge to Kraft, schools, whomever feels compelled to quell rising child obesity rates is to let the children become the teachers. Let’s empower children to teach others about healthy living. This could be done in school by creating a mentor program where kids would mentor younger kids on healthy eating.

For example, middle school students could head over to elementary schools to teach kids how to eat healthily. It could lead to after school programs where kids learn how to cook, go to farms and learn how to plant/pick foods. Schools could create gardens where kids could learn about where food comes from and learn to appreciate fresh foods. This could be done through science classes or even gym classes where health is covered. The food from the garden could go to the cafeteria, or even be sold as a fundraiser for next year’s garden.

One way to bring healthy eating home would be to have a “Healthy Eating Night” where kids and parents could learn together how to cook healthy meals. Maybe it’s a Saturday and kids and parents garden together in the school garden.

Companies (like Kraft) could get involved by sponsoring these programs. Companies that sell seeds could play a big role in the creation of these gardens. Rather than sell christmas wrapping paper, students could go door to door selling seeds.

The key in the kid-to-kid solution to obesity, is giving kids healthy role models that are just a few years older than them and giving kids the chance to showcase their smarts to younger kids and their parents.

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