Gaining extra yards against bad food choices

August 23, 2011

Smarter-eating teens can compete better in classes and on the ball fields. Supermarkets should supply the right guidance.

Parents whose teenagers have tuned them out will have little success getting them to eat smarter unless they have another motivating force. So many temptations beckon in the high school years, and bad food choices are among them every day.

Nutrition isn’t always high on the school curriculum. Teens scouring the Internet have other priorities besides food. Often, their parents can’t articulate what’s best – especially if they struggle themselves with proper diets and managing weight.

The Lempert Report believes retailers have an opportunity to help teens fuel their bodies the right way so they can compete better academically and on the athletic fields. They should connect with classroom teachers and sports team coaches to directly message the benefits of smarter food choices in concrete terms, not abstract terms. Want to run faster, have more strength or stamina, and earn more playing time? Want to heighten alertness, be able to retain more studies, and earn higher grades? Here’s a list of foods and dietary practices that will help you toward your goal. That’s what they should hear in school, and we think food retailers could shape this effort – and in the process, build more appreciative families in their communities with better-composed baskets.

Teens that learn this in school could influence what their parents buy and where their parents shop, as they help shape their own better future through smarter food choices and eating practices. Stores seen as the sources of teens’ competitive edge will gain such an edge themselves.

We believe such structured programs will work because we’ve seen so many teens listen to their coaches and teachers, even as they try to assert independence from their parents. Teens need the adult influence to stay on the right course, and supermarkets can help provide this guidance.