Marketing Healthy Foods to Kids

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Getting kids to eat healthy is often an up-hill battle. This morning registered dietitian, Susie Zachman, stopped by out kitchen to give us three tips that will help our kids eat healthier without putting up a fight.

In 2009, food and beverage companies spent $1.3 billion advertising food to children ages 2 to 11 years old.

In 2013, children aged 2 to 11 saw 13.1 TV food and beverage advertisements per day (or around 4,787 per year).

Less than 5% of these commercials are for foods like fruit, vegetables & whole grains that should comprise the bulk of our children’s diets.

According to a recent study done at Dartmouth, even moderate exposure to TV ads increased the likelihood of preschoolers eating fast food by about 30%.

As adults, we look at these ads and we can decide if the foods/drinks are aligned with our health goals. And – if we decide to eat them – hopefully we can do so in moderation and in the context of an overall balanced, healthy diet.

Children – particularly young children under the age of six – are not yet able to do this and may take these advertisements too literally. While we see these advertisements and put them in the context and make our own decisions about them, young children can’t.

So what can we do as parents?

#1 Character-ize it!

Studies show that kids between the ages of four to six years old think food tastes better when their favorite cartoon character is on the package.

Strategy: Buy plates and bowls with your child’s favorite cartoon character & use them to serve healthy foods.
Strategy: De-glamorize the less healthy food that you do buy. Take cereal and other packaged foods out of their pretty boxes and put them into plain plastic containers.
Strategy: Then re-purpose the pretty boxes to store healthy food.

#2 Eat with your eyes!

According to a study in Appetite magazine, children were willing to eat twice as much fruit when it was prepared in a visually appealing way.

Strategy: Use fun shapes to make F&V more appetizing/appealing to kids. I am amazed by how creative Better Beginnings parents get with this. Here just a few….

#3 Read & watch!
Monitor your children’s TV viewing (AAP recommends 1 hour per day of screen time). DVR to fast forward through commercials or watch Netflix shows that don’t have any.

Watch the YouTube “Super Sprowtz” channel with your kids.

Cast of superheroes includes super–strong Brian Broccoli, super–stretchy Sammy Spinach, super-speedy Suzy Sweetpea, super-sight Colby Carrot and super-smart Erica Eggplant.

The short videos use cooking, celebrity guests (like Shaquille O’Neil), storytelling, music videos, trivia and surprises to educate kids and families on eating well while having fun.

For more information go to

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