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Wastings and Hastings

School cafeterias to try psychology in lunch line


The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced what it called a major new initiative Tuesday, giving $2 million to food behavior scientists to find ways to use psychology to improve kids’ use of the federal school lunch program and fight childhood obesity.

A fresh approach is clearly needed, those behind the effort say.

About one-third of children and teens are obese or overweight. Bans on soda and junk food have backfired in some places. Some students have abandoned school meal programs that tried to force-feed healthy choices. When one school district put fruit on every lunch tray, most of it ended up in the garbage.

When dealing with the adolescent mind, remember that there is no such thing.  It is a cauldron of hormones, overheated with anxieties and fears.  If you want the young to improve their eating habits, try a combination of temptation and terror.

First, convince the students that there is a direct correlation between the food’s appearance and theirs.  What 12 year-old girl wouldn’t want to improve her melons?  And boys would see the value of carrots and bananas.

Now, to discourage consumption of the wrong foods, create a traumatic identification with them.  Next to the pizza, post photos of lepers, the hideously deformed or the columnists of the Weekly Standard.  For added emphasis, have the kitchen staff work nude.

Finally, and admittedly this is a radical idea, but how about not serving junk food in the first place.  Since when are public schools a free market?  I don’t recall having much freedom of choice in the curriculum.  No one offered me the choice of taking geometry or reading Playboy Magazines.  (“Really, Eugene” chided his guidance counselor, “Geometry will be more useful in the long run.”)  I did take geometry and I assure you that I remember more about the centerfolds from the Sixties.  (Sue Bernard was the first Jewish one.)

So, forget about offering our students a choice.  Find out what the high school students in China are eating, and force-feed it to our brats.

p.s.  Let’s not forget the historic significance of this day

  1. Rafferty Barnes says:

    Hey, the junk food makers are using psychology in their advertising to get the kids to pick them, why not the healthy food?

    • Eugene Finerman says:

      I have read that carrot sticks are being promoted as a fun food. I am sure, however, what is fun about them–other than sticking them in a classmates’ eyes, ears and noses. Carrots–being the Sade in salad!


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