Persuasion best way to achieve healthy eating
Is force or persuasion the best approach to getting people to eat healthier?
Regulations — like the one just approved in New York to limit the size of soft drinks — or increasing special taxes on “unhealthy” food products to discourage buying them may seem like the quick solution to some people, but it violates the freedom of choice principle that many of us treasure.
Persuasion and education may be the slower approach, but in the end it will be the more effective one.
An example of the persuasion approach was unveiled this week in local elementary schools.
The goal of the program — dubbed POWer PLAY'te — is to encourage children to pick vegetables and fruits as part of the school meals. It does this through colorful graphics and presentations that provide a playful approach to making good choices rather than forcing food choices on them that just end up in the trash.
Kristan Sheppeard and Susan Sternitzke of Limelight Creative Group are championing the program which will impact some 13,000 students in the Yuma Elementary and Crane school districts at lunch once a week.
The effort will also involve classroom materials to reinforce the importance of eating fruits and vegetables.
Funding for the program is being provided by Vic Smith, a local produce grower.
Much of what we accept as “normal” behavior — including food choices — is put in place during our childhoods. Showing youngsters the healthy food choices that are available and making their selection routine and fun will have a long-term impact. These future parents will likely pass this on to their own children, and so begins the beneficial cycle.
It is a longer-term approach than coercion, but it is the right way to do it.