Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Sesame Street Workshop Helps Children Make Healthy Food Choices

Official White House Photo by Lawrence Jackson

Elmo and Rosita are making healthy fruits and veggies more attractive to children. In fact, you'll probably be seeing more of them in your local grocery store before too long.

Last Wednesday, First Lady Michelle Obama announced that Sesame Street Workshop and the Produce Marketing Association (PMA) have joined the Partnership for a Healthier America (PHA) in a 2-year agreement to help promote fresh fruit and vegetable consumption to kids, making those healthy choices a little easier for busy parents and families to make.

This agreement simply allows PMA’s community of growers, suppliers, and retailers to utilize the strength and influence of the Sesame Street brand without a licensing fee, using characters like Big Bird, Elmo, Rosita and Abby Cadabby to help deliver messages about fresh fruits and vegetables.

What a great idea, no? I've frequently grumbled loudly and lamented over the fact that so many popular characters in children's shows and movies are often placed on the covers of boxes containing sugary, processed foods that are bad for my child's health. On more than one occasion, my children have pleaded for me to purchase junk food simply because of the packaging. And, yes, in a moment of weakness, I once caved and bought a box of some horrible high-sugar cookie when my son begged for me to get it, simply because it had a picture of Scooby on the front. Never again.

I want to know: Why don't companies like Disney and Warner Brothers use their popular animated characters to sell healthy food items and help encourage children to make wise choices when it comes to snacks?

UPDATE: It was pointed out to me that Disney is the first major media company to introduce new standards for food advertising on programming targeting kids and families.

That incident, however, totally drove it home for me how vulnerable children are to suggestion. So really, it comes as no surprise that a recent study published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine showed the number of children who chose apples over cookies nearly doubled when an Elmo sticker was placed on the apple. Popular characters can play a strong role in influencing kids’ food choices and the Sesame Street/PMA commitment aims to influence healthy choices.

I've written more than once about the Latino children's obesity crisis. In fact, you can find all of my posts on this issue here. And because this problem has such a tremendous impact on Latino children, you'll be seeing more posts here on MommyMaestra to help parents fight obesity in their children by help them be more active and make wiser food choices.

I want to leave you with this special video from our wonderful amiga Rosita, who recorded a message for children everywhere...

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