So here’s the story.
Recently I saw a tweet highlighting a new Calgary Positive Ticket campaign whereby Angie Thiessen’s daughter received a coupon redeemable for free access to a Calgary recreation facility because she was “caught” learning to ride her bicycle with a bike helmet.
When the @CalgaryPolice pull over and write a ticket while you’re taking the kids for a bike ride. 😁 Such a great idea – Liv was thrilled! And it had the neighbours calling… #yyc pic.twitter.com/ECQSIRl2yf
— Angie Thiessen (@angie_thiessen) April 26, 2018
Fantastic, right? Here’s a longer piece discussing the program.
But then I saw this story about Calgary’s positive ticketing program having handed out 2,350 coupons redeemable for a Macs Milk hot chocolate or Frosty over the course of the past 18 months.
So if the program’s changed (and zero doubt that it should) from targeting kids with free advertising and emotional brand washing for sugar sweetened beverages, then kudos to Calgary.
From the WTF files comes Ontario’s Science Centre’s hosting of the Cheetos Museum this past Mother’s Day weekend.
What’s a Cheetos museum?
It’s a mobile, immersive, advertising experience for Cheetos.
Was there any science you ask?
The “promotional activity” (that’s what it was called by the Ontario Science Centre in a now no longer hosted webpage online) involved hunting for Cheetos with identifiable shapes, swinging on a Cheetos branded swing, and taking pictures with Cheetos’ mascot Chester.
Checking out the Cheetos Museum at the Ontario Science Centre in Toronto. I found a parrot in my bag. Hilarious times! – #CheetosMuseum @OntScienceCtr pic.twitter.com/Q73dSQVbIf
— Toronto Guardian (@TORGuardian) May 11, 2018
So why would the Ontario Science Centre have hosted it?
I mean it’s difficult to imagine it was there for any other reason given there’s zero scientific content. The timing also seems to suggest money as the likelihood is that Mother’s Day weekend is one of the Science Centre’s busiest of the year – and that would command higher dollars.
All this to say, a live exhibit demonstrating the science of marketing junk foods to kids, by marketing junk food to kids, probably isn’t one I’d have recommended to the Ontario Science Centre.
(And I don’t think the Ontario Science Centre is all that proud of it either given there’s not a tweet or a Facebook post from them to be had about this particular promotional activity.)
[Thanks to Michelle Bernardo for sending my way]
|Image Source: The Los Angeles Loyolan|
I wish it went without saying, but it doesn’t, so I’ll say it again, please don’t encourage your kids to diet.
The worry is that by doing so, you may inadvertently have a negative affect on their self esteem, their body image, and/or their relationship with food, and given they’re likely not the ones doing the shopping, cooking the meals, or deciding how frequently to eat out, drive-thru, or take-out, even if there wasn’t risk to encouraging them to diet, their dietary landscape is primarily in your hands.
And that risk may not just be theoretical.
A study published in last month’s issue of Pediatrics found that parents encouraging their adolescents to diet was associated with,
“a higher risk of overweight or obesity, dieting, binge eating, engaging in unhealthy weight control behaviors, and lower body satisfaction 15 years later as a parent, after adjusting for sociodemographics and baseline measures of the outcomes“
It also demonstrated an inter-generational effect whereby kids who were encouraged to diet, 15 years later, were more likely to encourage their children to do so as well.
If you’re worried about your child’s weight, rather than suggest that they go on a diet, I’d encourage you to explore your home’s food environment. Look for ways to reduce liquid calories and energy dense food availability within the home, purchase fewer meals, make it a point to help your kids learn to cook (this recent study found those reporting cooking skills at 18 were more likely to have healthful diets a decade later), and improve your family’s health by looking for ways to be active together. And while there’s not likely to be any quick fixes, working towards living the life you want your children to live may go a long way.
Thanks to a colleague that probably should remain nameless for sending me this story about his 7 year old’s recent nutrition lesson.
Here’s the letter and photos he sent.
Hi Dr. Freedhoff,
Hope you are well, I got into a heated debate with my stubborn 7yr old son (who is starting to test the theory that I am the smarter person he knows) and I thought of you because I have seen you blog about this before.
Monday he came home with homework from a special nutrition lesson they got today from a rep from Pizza Nova. The Pizza Nova came in and fed them pizza (unknown to us), taught them to make pizza dough, and continued to teach these young impressionable minds that pizza is one of the healthiest foods there is because it has all of the food groups.
The homework included an activity book and once complete they receive a coupon for a free pizza.
This is a tipping point for me, the school already has pizza day every 2 weeks, theme food days all the time, bake sales, freeze sales regularly, food fundraisers and the list goes on, now we have food companies advertising to children false info about nutrition.
When he questioned his 7 year old’s teacher, the one who invited Pizza Nova to teach her students about nutrition, about the wisdom of the guest teachers, she saw nothing wrong with it and explained to him how it is nice to have community partners come in to break up the regular school day.
As part of writing this story, I did some Googling. Apparently this isn’t a one-of, and that rather this is a common event at Kindergartens across Ontario including Oakville, Hamilton, Toronto, Whitby, and Bowmanville (that’s where the letter writer’s son goes to school).
In fact, according to Pizza Nova, last year,
“over 120 schools, participated in over 600 workshops, entertaining more than 27,000 children.“
Call me old fashioned, but I don’t think schools should be providing the food industry, or any industry for that matter, with access to our children. let alone inviting a fast food company to teach nutrition to Kindergarteners.