Eat your veggies —because they’re cool
With a climbing rate of obesity in adults and, most alarmingly, in children, more efforts are made today to educate parents and children about healthy food choices. First lady Michelle Obama has made it her own personal mission with the creation of her Let’s Move initiative, which seeks to make the next generation a healthier one.
Another telling element to this push for more awareness about childhood nutrition is the creation of PBS’s Emmy-nominated Web series, “Professor Fizzy’s Lunch Lab” — a multimedia children’s program aimed at teaching its young audience about eating well without any signs of an authoritative message that might make kids shy away.
“One of the things you’ll never hear someone saying on ‘Fizzy’s’ is: ‘This is healthy!’ or ‘This is nutritious,’” says Evan Sussman, who created the series with Dave Schlafman.
“We avoid using flag words like that. We try to describe everything as being good or cool or fun because the last thing we wanted to do was make it preachy.”
In addition to lead character Professor Fizzy, who doles out the knowledge, there’s Fast Food Freddy, his evil nemesis whose fast-food theme park, “Greasy World,” serves as a counterpoint to the better food options the show presents. Music videos from Lunch Lab House band Freezer Burn — such “Wheat is Sweet” and “Veggie Fever” — have also been a draw for the show, says Sussman.
The hope is that the show will one day be used as a learning tool at home and in schools.
“We come at it from the point of view of, as long as it’s entertaining — and we try to make it as funny as possible — then the message is like slipping in the broccoli with the dessert,” Sussman says. “The message is overshadowed by it being a fun show to watch. You don’t watch it to learn, you watch it because you like it — and hopefully pick up stuff along the way. We’re trying to make the message very simple and digestible.” No pun intended.
The most recent Healthy Eating Index, a study conducted by the Department of Agriculture’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, reported that children between the ages of 2 and 5 had significantly better diets than children ages 6 to 11.