Pop Culture: Watch for Its Influences on Your Health Habits

Cart racing down a grocery store aisle. Pop Culture Influence on HealthPop culture plays an interesting role on our psychological behavior, especially when it comes to the choices that we make. Popular clothing and hairstyles sported by celebrities suddenly become all the rage, while small children only want things associated with their favorite cartoon character. In many instances these preferences can be harmless, but sometimes they can influence us in negative ways, especially when it comes to our health.

Fighting off Characters

We’ve all seen the children in the cereal aisle that throw tantrums when their parents refuse to buy the cereal with their favorite character on it. Characters are an extremely popular form of marketing psychology used by advertisers to build brand reputation and loyalty. Often times they even lure adults as a result of childhood nostalgia or simply having always purchased the specific product as far back as they remember.

Unfortunately, many of the brightly colored, character-sponsored products that we purchase are notoriously bad for our health and many have been linked to the growing obesity epidemic in the United States. In 2013, nearly one in five adolescents was overweight or obese. This means making the conscious effort to fight off the influence of characters that much more important.

A more Positive Association

Luckily, not all of the pop culture-based advertising is bad. In a number of instances, popular characters and famous figures are used to promote healthier habits or to help explain information. For instance, Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman were characterized in an interactive piece that examines common myths associated with non-communicable diseases.

The informative walkthrough utilizes popular ‘mythbusters’ to examine falsities within healthcare, which automatically adds validity to it in our psyche. These positive examples show that characters can be used as a means to influence us in a more beneficial manner. Ultimately spreading this information using pop culture stars helps to give more traction to a necessary message.

Growing Awareness

Becoming more cognizant of how pop culture is influencing our purchasing decisions is not an easy task. It takes careful examination related to why you are buying a specific item, especially if there are some sort of popular references upon the packaging. Are you really buying it because it is the healthiest option or because the mascot is the most appealing?

Furthermore, it is important to consider how advertising for certain products is influencing your likelihood of purchasing. One recent study suggested that advertisements for unhealthy snacks and children’s products (which are typically targeted directly at children) are now focusing upon the parents in part by airing ads that show happy families consuming the food. It may not seem like much, but this type of psychology reinforces the idea that buying these products will make your family happier.

Brittni Brown

Brittni Brown is a current Masters candidate at the University of Idaho. In her free time she enjoys a variety of outdoor activities including hiking, biking, and camping.

Note: This Perspectives Blog post is written by a guest blogger of DrGreene.com. The opinions expressed on this post do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Dr. Greene or DrGreene.com, and as such we are not responsible for the accuracy of the information supplied. View the license for this post.

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