Erin Reeve Evolving Prior Breakfast Campaigns to Reduce the Childhood Obesity Rate Many studies suggest that eating breakfast promotes weight control and weightmaintenance. In the midst of America’s obesity epidemic, many health communicationcampaigns promote breakfast in an effort to reduce the childhood obesity rate in the UnitedStates.Concurrent with prior campaigns that encourage children to eat breakfast wereadvertisements and campaigns for new menu items from the fast food industry. Since 2005,breakfast expenditures from fast food restaurants have risen 10 percent and are responsible for 66percent of the industry’s total profits. It appears that although children were eating breakfast,they were not considering the nutritional value of their choices. Many priorcampaigns that encourage children to eat breakfastfailed toemphasizetheimportance of the meal’s nutritional content.Studies conducted by the Center for Science in thePublic Interest state that the meal’s nutritional content is just as important as making the decisionto eat breakfast. Although the debate of which is more important is controversial, the generalpublic sees the link from fast food to obesity as common knowledge. Therefore, it is important toevolve prior campaigns that encourage children to eat breakfast into campaigns that emphasizethe importance of the meal’s nutritional content. Eating an unhealthy breakfastand skippingbreakfast can have similar effects .Although people who eat breakfast on a regular basis arehealthier than those who normally skip, experts remind us that our obesity epidemic began whenconvenience foods became prevalent. From the middle to late 1970’s, Burger King andMcDonalds began serving breakfast in America. Soon after, convenience foods became highlydemanded. Since this time, America’s childhood obesity rate has doubled. Regardless, the
market for fast food breakfast continues to grow. In 2010, Subway opened 23,000 storesnationwide. Furthermore, many fast food advertisements and campaigns helped create a discrepancybetween prior health communication campaigns. Many people began that by just eatingbreakfast, they were being healthy. Convenience food companies and fast food restaurants usedpersuasive messages in their advertisements and campaigns that furthered this belief. In 2009,McDonalds produced a commercial in which a father and son ate McDonalds’ breakfastsandwiches before the son hits a homerun. In 2008, McDonalds produced a commercial in whichdifferent Olympic athletes explained why it was necessary to wake up early to train and eat theirMcDonalds breakfast. They used statements such as, “Before it’s too late” to promote theconvenience of the sandwich. These commercials emphasized the convenience of McDonaldsfoods, while suggesting that eating their breakfast would lead to enhanced athletic performance.Despite this unrealistic outcome, Finance Daily reports that fast food sandwich sales have risen30 percent since 2005. This indicates that the American public was persuaded and misled bythese commercials. In 2001, when the “Eat Breakfast: a Behavior Change Campaign” was created, cerealbrands spent $792 million on advertising their cereals. Since then, breakfast cereal brands havecreated their own campaigns, such as General Mill’s Choose Your Breakfast (2005), QuakerOatmeal’s Amazing Mornings (2006), Kellog’s Share Your Breakfast (2011). In alignment withthe “Eat Breakfast” campaign, these campaigns highlighted the benefits of eating breakfast andhow not eating breakfast could affect your health. These cereal brands saw an opportunity withthe “Eat Breakfast” campaign to promote their product. Otherwise, they may have risked beingseen as “unhealthy”.
Our Campaign Due to a lack of time in the morning, parents and children whom eat breakfast may betempted to eat unhealthily due to these companies’ messages about convenience and health.Although skipping breakfast may lead to weight gain and decreased academic performance,eating an unhealthy breakfast that is high in sugar and simple carbohydrates may cause the sameeffects. The USDA states, “by eating poorly at breakfast, they set themselves up to eat poorlythroughout the day.” Therefore, instead of focusing on solely eating breakfast, our campaign willfocus on the nutritional contents of a child’s breakfast in order to decrease childhood obesity inthe United States. Our main objective is to reduce the childhood obesity rate in America on alocal scale in hopes that it can become national with time and funds. Children are incapable of eating a healthy breakfast for many reasons, but our campaignwill focus on time, education and economic issues, the two that we deemed most prevalent inAmerica right now. In a study conducted by the USDA, 27 percent of Americans eat their mealsand snacks outside of their homes. Secondly, a child and parents’ lack of knowledge may preventa child from eating a healthy breakfast. Thirdly, as stated above, past campaigns about simplyeating breakfast may cause confusion as to what is healthy. Furthermore, advertisements for fastand convenience foods may cause people to believe that their food is nutritious. These faultyadvertisements can cause children and parents to make unhealthy decisions, despite their attemptto be healthy.Target Audience To encourage children to eat a healthy breakfast on a local scale, our campaign’s teamwill focus on students and parents at SPEAs elementary to demonstrate how to make quick, tasty
and healthy breakfasts. North Carolina has the 11th highest obesity rate in the nation. Thirty-twopercent of children in North Carolina have a BMI range of 25-29.9. Our target audience isstudents at a local, low-income school, Speas Elementary. Speas is a Title One school, which isa program that helps low-income students have the same opportunities as other students.According to the DPI, 87 percent of the Speas Elementary students are from low-incomehouseholds. We believe that Speas would be a good school to target because “children fromlow-income households do not generally eat as well as those from high-income situations.”(USDA Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion) To learn more about the intended audience,we will distribute questionnaires to all the children when the students are in their “home room”classrooms. This will eliminate children taking the survey more than once. The questionnairewill ask if they eat breakfast and what they eat for breakfast to give us a generalization of theirbreakfast habits.Localization The component of localization is unique in our campaign. In America, most campaignsthat promote eating breakfast have a national focus, which disallows the target audience to feelresponsible for their actions. Large-scale campaigns make it easier for individuals to ignorebecause they do not feel that the campaign is directly targeted at them. Often times, large-scalecampaigns can, also, make the campaign’s target audience believe that their behavior is normal.These campaigns, therefore, may render behavior change, rather than promote it. Therefore, bylocalizing the campaign, we can make individuals feel more responsible for their actions, as theybegin to realize that they are part of the problem. A local-scale campaign will make childrenwant to eat healthier out of the fear of disappointing an authoritative figure, such as a teacher,their parents, or a campaign leader. The campaign leaders will take surveys and ask students
about their breakfast habits at the weekly educational session to heighten this effect.Implementing the program on a local-scale gives the campaign team an opportunity to be moreengaged with the students. Our campaign wants to give a similar feel to that of those people whokeep food diaries for dieticians. People are more likely to make healthier decisions because theywant to impress the dietician and because the problem is highlighted causing them to feel moreresponsible for their actions.Let’s Move Campaign Our campaign will focus on helping children in low-income areas to eat a healthybreakfast. We will follow the steps from Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move” Campaign, whichsuggests that childhood obesity is the fault of the parents, schools, government and the child.Her campaign targets parents by suggesting healthy options and recipes for them to eat at home.She targets the school by helping them create better tasting and healthier lunches. Thegovernment is targeted by adapting her campaign to those in food desserts. She educateschildren, as well, so that they are able to make healthy choices on their own. Similar to the“Let’s Move” campaign, we believe that the high obesity rate amongst children is a collectivedue to the decisions that the schools, government, parents and child make. 1. Lack of Education and Time In Great Britian, similar to the United States in both size and culture, “A BetterBreakfast” campaign was launched to promote healthy breakfast eating in eleven local schools.The campaign focused on educating the children on ways to eat a healthier breakfast andovercome the issue of time. This campaign encourages children to make breakfast the mostimportant meal of their day, in hopes that eating breakfast will promote calorie control and eating
properly throughout the day. Instead of focusing on simply eating breakfast, it encourageschildren to examine what they eat and why.The campaign holds cooking demonstrations to helpteach and show how children and parents can cook and eat a healthier breakfast when time isscarce. We will use the framework of this campaign in our campaign to help end issues of time andeducation. To educate children, we will hold weekly seminars before school that will highlighthow to eat a healthy breakfast. We will use OrganWise Guys puppets to demonstrate howdifferent nutrients effect different organs. The program will use the OrganWise guys as healthy“cool” icons to help gain the students’ trust and interest and change their perception that healthyeating is associated with being uncool. We believe that for a child to be healthy, he or she mustmake a conscious decision to be healthy and also have parents that are willing to provide healthyoptions for their children. Since children have to make the conscious decision to be healthy, wehave to change the perception of what “being healthy” means to a child. Since children are morelikely to think a stuffed icon is “cooler” than a teacher, who is usually symbolic of anauthoritative, uncool figure, we will use the OrganWise Guys as icons to hopefully gainchildren’s trust and interest to change their perception about what “being healthy” means to ourtarget audience. These messages will, also, be able to grasp the attention of the audience and beinteresting enough for them to remember and use what they have learned at meal time. We willexplain why it is important to eat these different nutrients and how to obtain them. We will, also,focus on ending the discrepancy between what breakfast foods are and are not healthy. Aftereach session, we will put up a poster that explains the lessons learned from that day. Every time achild enters the gym, he or she will be reminded of that lesson and hopefully implement it intotheir breakfast routine.
To educate parents, we will have different recipes and informational blurbs in theschool’s weekly newsletter that will make it easier for them to understand and overcome theissue of time when preparing a healthy breakfast for their children. We will suggest that allaspects of health are interconnected and that a child who eats a nutritious breakfast is less likelyto acquire other health problems, such as Type 2 Diabetes, which can be costly for the parents.Since Speas is in a low-income district, it is our hope that this will encourage parents to makesure that their children are eating a healthy breakfast to keep medical costs of the future down.We will also write a weekly post in the school’s newsletter about easy recipes and ways to getchildren to eat a healthy breakfast. As suggested by the “Let’s Move” Campaign, schools and the government, also, play arole in the childhood obesity epidemic. We do not believe that teachers should be responsible fortheir students’ meals. Instead, we will implement vending machines that the school andgovernment will have to pay for. Vending machines will be stocked with healthy breakfastoptions like bananas, granola bars, trail mixes, low-fat milk, and mini boxes of cereal. Thiswould help those that may not have access to healthy food options or do not have time to grabbreakfast before arriving at school. For those that do not have the funds for a healthy breakfast,we would like the school to provide newer, healthier options that would be provided as freebreakfast options for students with vouchers. Furthermore, for those on reduced lunches andbreakfasts, it is our hope that we can persuade the government to make healthier and bettertasting breakfast options using the information that was included in the beginning of this paper.Media Channels
Besides our poster messages, we will also haverecipe ideas in the parent newsletters forour sub-audience, whom play a crucial role in our goal. These recipe ideas will make it easierfor parents, who otherwise may choose convenient foods for their children due to a lack of time,energy, or desire. We understand that it is hard for parents to provide healthy options forchildren, especially in the morning, when there is a huge time crunch. Our recipes, which willall take 5 to 10 minutes each, will hopefully help parents make healthy decisions quickly andeasily for their children without having to map out nutrients and/or search for quick and healthyoptions. Since children are responsible for a large part of their diet, it is important that we make iteasy for a child to make healthy decisions. Posters will be hung so the children will be able torecall and remember what was discussed in the lecturers. They will be able to see the posterswhen they go to gym class every other day. The posters will, also, be placed by the vendingmachines so that after the lectures, the students will be more tempted to make healthier breakfastchoices. These messages relate to the theoretical basis of our campaign because we first want toeducate our audience and make them realize the difference between a healthy breakfast and justeating breakfast. We understand that we are competing with past advertisements and campaignsthat have given the public the misconception that simply eating breakfast is healthy. However,want to make it easy for our audience to learn how to and remember how to eat a healthybreakfast easily.Evaluation
We will evaluate our campaign by examining the children in pretests, posttests,questionnaires, and mini-quizzes. We will evaluate these by taking the answers and comparingthem by looking in a before-and-after fashion. For the educational lecturers, it may be hard todecipher if our lecture was a direct cause of the children’s learning or inability to learn thematerial. We will have to decipher if the questions we asked were easier or if the material wasmore interesting than the previous week. Also we have to look at if the teaching strategy weused in the lecture was more effective. We will change and adapt our teaching strategies basedon the children’s scores on the mini-quizzes. Our pre-test will test the student and parents’ perceptions of self-efficacy and foodavailability. We will ask the following questions: 1. Do you eat a healthy breakfast? 2. Howoften is healthy food available to you in your home? 3. Do you have enough time before schoolto eat a healthy breakfast? 4. Do you think you would eat a healthy breakfast if it were availableto you?” Our answer scale would consist of the following options: 1-All the Time 2-Most of theTime 3-I don’t know 4-Not Usually 5-Never. This will test for how many times a child eatsbreakfast and how often it is healthy. It will also tell us factors that may make it hard to eatbreakfast, such as food unavailability and lack of time. Our post-test will help us test if ourcampaign worked to create a behavioral change amongst the parents and students at SpeasElementary and will consist of the same questions that were listed above. As stated above, we will look at before-and-after results of the campaign with pre-andpost-tests. We will have to check the stock of the vending machines to see if this is an effectiveand useful tool in our campaign. The vending machines should be located right outside of thegymnasium, where the lectures will be held, to make it easier for kids to associate breakfast with
the lecture and remember where they are located. It will also make it easier for them to attain ahealthy breakfast right after the lecture. To test the effectiveness of our education programs for students, students will be given amini-quiz after each program lecture. Monitors will walk around and make sure that the studentsare not copying or talking to one another during the quizzes. The quizzes will not affect thestudents’ grades in anyway, but will help us evaluate how much information they are attainingfrom the program. We will collect the mini-quizzes and decipher what aspects of the programneed to be more emphasized. The questions on the mini-quizzes will be multiple choices and ask generalized questionsfrom the lecture. For example, on a lecture about Vitamin C, a sample question would include:“What breakfast item has the most vitamin C?” with the multiple choice answers: “A. OrangeJuice B. Cheerios C. Toast and Peanut Butter D. Melon”. As stated before, after reviewing all ofour materials, we will adjust our campaign to better educate and help students based on theirneeds and desires.