The “I just don’t care” problem

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We all know it’s bad for you – but so what? And what now?
While the government is celebrating that British people do buy more fruit and less snacks, obesity rates in the UK continue to grow rapidly – not at least in the crucial teenager group.
Yet, while the government is spending more money informing the population about the dangers of unhealthy eating habits, lack of exercise and co, what is the real evidence that young people really care?
Together with some colleagues we recently looked at what knowledge students had of all the health-lingo. Crucially we tested the students not only with tick-box answers, but also asked about definitions and asked questions which were designed to show whether or not the students actually understood the terms being used in the media and by the government in their health promotion efforts.
To make a long story short: The results are depressing. Here we have a group of people with an above average intelligence, at their prime of life – yet simple definitions like “oily fish” (one student defined it as fish fried in oil!) were too much for most students – and regrettably “oily fish” was one of the topics students knew most about. Other definitions like “omega 3″, “BMI” or “prebiotic” fared a lot worse – and even the ubiquitous “5 portions of fruit and veg” seemed to puzzled many students. Worst of all, many students responded that they did not care.
It seems the government still has a long way to go with their campaigns, especially as at least for our study the students seemed to be more confused than knowledgeable about food, apathy rates are extremely high and there was really little evidence that most students knew what was good or bad for them – but rather that they were able to identify buzz words but could not make much sense out of them.

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