I came across this journal—yes, a peer-reviewed JOURNAL—article today, and it was screaming to be read. The research paper by Stead et al, 2011, contended that eating healthy was risky to the image of young people. Here is what they found:
British young people from a certain suburb chosen because its citizens included both middle class and working class, aged 13-16, were interviewed. Initially they agreed that consumption choices do affect how everyone else perceived individuals, especially when it comes to clothing. They disagreed that food choices would elicit judgement, but eventually their prejudice towards certain foods manifested. Like yogurt. One does not simply eat yogurt in school because the use of a large metal spoon looked silly.
Brands were also important. Shopping at discount retailers and Aldi would induce ridicule. Teens from both middle and working class even had songs about the shops one must never be seen buying from. They could even tell if beans came from an acceptable grocery store or Aldi. [That sounds like a potentially useful skill. Also, what is this against Aldi? I happen to like it.]
When asked to match the accompanying item for a sandwich for each type of person (i.e. trendy, untrendy, popular, unpopular, geeky, healthy, unhealthy, rich, not rich, celebrity), the prejudices became particularly interesting. The popular person eats and drinks branded products high in fat. But if they chose healthy foods sans yogurt, no one would judge, especially if they were jocks who needed to maintain their hunky bodies. The unpopular person and geeks were associated with eating absolutely healthy foods like apples, bananas and Yakult, because apparently they could not care less.
If you were trying to stay in the top half of the popularity pyramid, you had to eat like you didn’t care what you consumed. If you eat fries, you couldn’t worry about your weight, because worrying about it made you a geek. But you couldn’t gain weight either, because being fat always, without a shred of doubt, resulted in taunts.
So the conclusion was that eating healthy for the most part deteriorated adolescents’ mental and emotional well-being because of the judgment they would receive, which is as important, if not more, than physical health. Hence eating healthy is bad. Wow, mind blown. I am so glad I am not in high school anymore and I can eat whatever I want or can afford.
Admittedly I thought that I could use this article to argue that salads were unhealthy because they are raw, yes RAW. Instead I supposedly have to continue eating healthy because I’m a geek. #ROASTVEGGIESALLTHEWAY
Stead, M., McDermott, L., MacKintosh, A. M., & Adamson, A. (2011). Why healthy eating is bad for young people’s health: Identity, belonging and food. Social Science and Medicine, 72(7), 1131–1139.