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Picking Up the Habit of Daily Orange Juice Consumption
Picking Up the Habit: Feeding Orange Juice to Your Kids How a seemingly sensible choice becomes a routine Reed Matheny – habits.stanford.edu – Spring 2010
An All Too Common Story… Drinking 12 ounces of fruit juice every day has been proven to make children shorter and fatter, 1 so how does such a harmful practice become so common? We’ll follow the story of Sandra, the mother of a newborn daughter, to see the string of choices and behaviors that lead to this unfortunate habit 1 According to a 1997 study led by Dr. Barbara Dennison - http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/99/1/15
The Instruction Five months after her daughter is born, Sandra visits her pediatrician as she has done regularly. Her pediatrician recommends that she start introducing other liquids besides formula and breast milk to advance the weaning process, so Sandra assures herself that it is time to start with juice. The visit to the pediatrician is a Blue Span behavior – a familiar behavior that is performed finite period of time (see the Fogg Behavior Grid www.behaviorgrid.org )
The Purchase On her next trip to the supermarket, Sandra purchases a carton of orange juice , something she has done often but not consistently in the past. The juice is a relatively cheap and easy way to expand her daughter’s diet. This is a Blue Dot behavior – an action that is familiar, but not repeated regularly
The Introduction The next time her daughter needs to be fed, Sandra mixes a little bit of orange juice in with her daughter’s formula for the first time. Her daughter seems to like the new mixture. This is an example of a Green Dot behavior – an unfamiliar behavior being performed for the very first time
Starting the Routine Over the course of the week, Sandra sees that her daughter likes the orange juice and it seems to be reducing her stomach pains, so she keeps mixing the orange juice into the formula. This has now become a Blue Span behavior – an action that will be repeated for a certain period of time: in this case, until Sandra’s daughter no longer needs formula
Continuing Indefinitely Eventually, Sandra does not need to feed her daughter formula anymore, but she continues to give her orange juice because juice is easy to purchase, her daughter likes it, and because orange juice is supposed to be healthy. She will continue to feed her daughter orange juice every morning all through her youth. This is a Blue Path behavior – an action that will continue indefinitely
How Did We Get Here? Sandra’s daughter will keep drinking orange juice every morning for most of her life and although she plays soccer, she will eventually be below the average height for women her age and above the average in BMI – thanks in part to the juice drinking habit fostered by her mother. By relying on her preexisting habits ( the Blue Behaviors ) of visiting her pediatrician and listening to the conventional wisdom about juice, Sandra never questioned the notion that daily orange juice would be good for her daughter. Then, because orange juice is cheap, accessible and well-liked by her daughter, the habit of feeding it to her every morning became an easy routine for Sandra (from Green to Blue without a hitch)
Conclusions An Archetypal Case: Sandra’s story is just one example of how the habit of drinking orange juice everyday as a child can be solidified, but many of these same processes are present in other paths as well. Lessons Learned: We can try to intervene after this habit has been established in today’s youth but we will not be able to attack this major contributor to childhood obesity until we can revise the conventional wisdom that daily orange juice is categorically good for children. Reed Matheny – habits.stanford.edu – Spring 2010