It’s that time of year again – school is out, summer is in full swing and during those hot, dog days of the season, many parents take the kids to the theater to cool off and kill a few hours of free time.
And this time of year, there are plenty of flicks to appeal to youngsters, everything from super-hero capers such as “X-Men: Days of Future Past,” to “The Amazing Spider-Man 2” to the fairy tale-themed “Maleficent” to animated features such as “How To Train Your Dragon 2.”
While movies are entertaining for folks of all ages, parents who are looking out for their children’s health might want to take note of a study that found many popular children’s movies such as “Kung Fu Panda” and “Shrek the Third,” may carry mixed messages about eating habits and obesity.
According to the study, some animated and live-action movies aimed at kids in a time of epic obesity levels are guilty of “glamorizing” unhealthy eating and inactivity, while also condemning obesity.
The study was conducted by an associate professor of pediatrics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Medicine. She and colleagues looked at 20, top-grossing G- and PG-rated movies that were released from 2006 to 2010 and examined of how they depicted eating, physical activity and obesity.
The findings showed many children’s films presented “a mixed message” in the form of promoting unhealthy behavior, then “stigmatizing the behaviors’ possible effects,” according to researchers.
The study, which was published in the journal “Obesity,” said in movie segments that included eating, 26 percent showed very large portion sizes, while 51 percent included less-than-healthy snacks. In addition, 19 percent showed sugary drinks.
Meanwhile, when it came to physical activity, 40 percent of the movies had clips with characters watching TV, 35 percent featured characters at computers, and 20 percent showed characters playing video games.
Researchers said unhealthy movie segments outnumbered healthy ones by two to one, according to the researchers.
They also found that nearly 75 percent of the films included negative weight-related messages. For instance, a panda who wants to learn martial arts is told he has arms that are flabby and a “ridiculous” belly.
As dentists for children and champions of healthy living from a young age, many pediatric dentists, including those at Scripps Pediatric Dentistry, strive to teach both parents and our young patients that good eating habits lead to healthy teeth and bodies. If you need advice on helping improve your child’s diet to improve the health of their teeth, don’t hesitate to call our office or search our directory for a local pediatric dental provider. Have a good time at the movies this summer, but seek professional help if you need to get serious when it comes to your child’s general and oral health.