This blog shares some of our thoughts about plain language, and the latest discussions about plain English and clear design in New Zealand, and around the world.

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26 September 2014

Making healthy choices for children — add good eyesight and good health literacy to your skill set

Continuing the conversation about health literacy

Children are attracted to colourful drinks at their sports events. To know what these sports drinks contain, parents and coaches need good eyesight to read the small font on the label. And they need good health literacy to understand the many words for sugar and to use the information for healthy choices.

Moira Smith, Dentist and Lead Researcher in an Otago University study of children aged 10–12 years, found that children associate the sugar-sweetened and caffeinated drinks with sport and with our sports stars. Clever marketing indeed. The characteristics of the drinks — the colour, the taste, the image — are attractive, so they make it difficult for children to follow nutrition guidelines. The drinks are associated with poor health outcomes such as obesity and dental decay.

Clever marketing of food and drink at sports events is tough for parents. They need to be smart about what children perceive as ‘good for them’ — our elite sports people drink them, don’t they? Reading the label’s only the beginning. Applying what they know about sugar and caffeine to actions that promote healthy choices for their family is the hard bit. Moira Smith’s study found that New Zealand needs ‘improved public health mechanisms to support healthy beverage choices’.

Read more about this New Zealand study in Appetite journal, Vol 81, 1 October 2014, pp 209-217 

Or read local reports of the study here:

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