The food and beverage industry spends $2 billion each year marketing specifically to our kids. The fast food industry spends more than $5 million every day marketing unhealthy foods to children.*
Researchers found that even five years after adolescents had been exposed to promotions of unhealthy foods, they purchased fewer fruits and vegetables, but increased consumption of fast foods and sugar-sweetened beverages.**
What’s a parent to do? What’s a concerned health advocate to do? While we don’t have $2 billion, what we do have is our collective voice. And our voice can be pretty powerful if we join together to share positive health messages and to make important changes in our communities.
Partners from across Kansas City created the Healthy Lifestyles Initiative (HLI) and the 12345 Fit-Tastic! message to share five specific steps that we can teach our kids — and that we can practice ourselves — to be healthy every day. Since 2012, more than 125 organizations pledged to share the 12345 Fit-Tastic! message as HLI partners. The collective reach of these partners is more than 2 million children and families across Kansas and Missouri!
The 12345 Fit-Tastic! message includes 5 behaviors to engage in each day:
1 hour or more of physical activity
2 hours maximum of screen time
3 servings of low or nonfat milk or yogurt
4 servings of water not sugary drink
5 servings or more of fruits & vegetables
HLI partners, like Truman Medical Center’s WIC program, have incorporated the 12345 Fit-Tastic! message into their family events and promoted it through branding on staff t-shirts, materials and giveaways. The Linwood YMCA shares the 12345 Fit-Tastic! message in nearly every program, from their childwatch to swimming lessons to their work in the Linwood community.
Healthy Communities Wyandotte partners are sharing the 12345 Fit-Tastic! message at events, through a community messaging campaign and at schools and childcare centers. The KC Chamber of Commerce just recommended promotion of the 12345 Fit-Tastic! message as part of the Healthy KC Initiative.
Beyond sharing the 12345 Fit-Tastic! message, tips and resources, partners are working on policy and environmental changes, an important component of the HLI. Sharing a consistent message supports and creates demand for policy and environmental changes. Policy and environmental changes are essential in helping children and families to achieve the healthy behaviors promoted through the 12345 Fit-Tastic! message.
At the center of this work are partnerships. Through our collective efforts, families in Kansas City are beginning to see this consistent message repeatedly and through different locations- at their schools, primary care providers, community centers, and community events. As people recognize the message and remember it, they then begin to act on it. Together, our voice is amplified, and our strength is shared. So, watch out Tony the Tiger and Ronald McDonald, our collective voice is getting louder in Kansas City.
For more information on the Healthy Lifestyles Initiative, visit www.fittastic.org.
This blog post is part of A Healthy 10.
* Kovacic, W. e. (2008). Marketing food to children and adolescents: A review of industry expenditures, activities, and self-regulation: A Federal Trade Commission report to Congress. Federal Trade Commission.
** Barr-Anderson DJ, Larson NI, Nelson MC, Neumark-Sztainer D, Story M. Does television viewing predict dietary intake five years later in high school students and young adults? Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2009;6:7.
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