My son brought to my attention an ad campaign launched by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) called “A Tip from a Former Smoker.” If you haven’t seen it, it showcases Terrie, a 51-year-old, thin and frail woman who provides guidance on how she gets ready in the morning. Initially, she speaks to us with a hand over her throat, and proceeds to place a hands-free voice box into the hole in her throat, which helps her speak understandably.
Because of throat cancer (from smoking), Terrie had a laryngectomy to remove cancer tissue and her voice box. The commercial ends with Terrie placing a wig on her head and a scarf around her neck to cover her throat.
The ad is meant to shock smokers into quitting.
Or, in the case of my son, shock youngsters into never starting the bad habit in the first place.
For me, these ad campaigns are effective—they shock, they “wake you up,” and they get you thinking more deeply about the habits you have and how they impact your life. For my son, they were certainly shocking and even a little scary (and sad).
I started wondering if similar commercials about food and eating habits would motivate, or shock viewers into changes for the better.
A Tip from a Former Fast Food Frequenter: Susan lost 75# after she gave up fast food!
A Tip from a Former Overeater: Jeremy was able to compete in his first 10K after losing weight!
A Tip from a Recovered Type 2 Diabetic: After diabetes ruined Ruth’s foot, she finally got her diet and blood sugars under control.
A Tip from a Former Convenience Foodie: Once Tommy stopped eating from the convenience store, his speed and endurance improved greatly!
Role modeling healthy eating habits, active lifestyles and nutrition education contribute to knowledge about nutritious diets and exercise, but does knowledge alone motivate an improvement from a sedentary lifestyle and a poor diet?
Controlling less-than-healthy food has its own issues. Soda bans and taxes cause upheaval regarding our right to choose. And government guidelines in the school cafeteria can cause dissension among parents, teachers and school nutrition professionals, and even our athletes.
We don’t want to be told what to do. We want our choice to be our choice. And we know knowledge doesn’t necessarily mean better health behaviors.
So what do we do? Shall we shock our athletes with real life consequences through commercials? What will it take to make a real change in our kid’s eating habits? Share your thoughts below!
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the National Alliance for Youth Sports.
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