Bryan, Yeager et al. 2016: Reading, reflecting, and writing about deceptive and manipulative marketing by food companies led students to choose fewer unhealthy foods one day later
Adolescents read about journalism exposing the deceptive and manipulative marketing practices of food companies and their harmful effects on society, especially to young children and the poor (e.g., formulating foods based on research designed to make it more addictive) as well as stories from older students describing their outrage about food company practices and efforts to “fight back against the companies by buying and eating less processed food.” They then wrote essays explaining why they were outraged and might fight back. As compared to a traditional public health message (conveying scientific information about how the body processes food, recommendations for a balanced diet, etc.), the “exposé” message, which connected with adolescents’ goals around autonomy and social justice, led students to choose fewer unhealthy foods in a snack form in their homerooms a day later, representing less carbohydrates and sugar.