The Center for Disease Control has long linked the dietary and physical activity behaviors of children and adolescents to poor health. Those behaviors, they say, are influenced by many sectors of society, including schools, government agencies, the media, the food, beverage and entertainment industries.

Media mismatch

It doesn’t help that children are inundated with conflicting messages on what to eat every day. Research by the Yale Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity shows that kids see as many as 5,500 advertisements for junk food on television a year. In comparison, they’re only exposed to 100 advertisements for healthy foods. That disparity has a lot to do with the huge marketing budgets managed by giant food conglomerates, and the minimal marketing dollars fresh produce companies have at their disposal.

Turning the corner

"Kids see as many as 5,500 advertisements for junk food on television a year."

After generations of families have spent many evenings battling dinnertime woes, parents have a new partner. With the help of first lady Michelle Obama and the Partnership for a Healthier America, Sesame Workshop, Produce Marketing Association (PMA), a trade group that represents the fresh produce and floral industries—and a radical new way of approaching the childhood obesity crisis—Big Bird and his friends from Sesame Street are lending their brand power to inspire children to eat more fresh fruits and veggies.

In this unprecedented movement, called eat brighter!™, Sesame Workshop and PMA have forged a partnership that allows fresh produce companies to use Sesame Street character images in their marketing without expensive licensing agreements that may require those giant food company budgets.

In fact, Sesame Workshop is letting fresh produce companies use their established brand, free of royalty costs—all in the name of children’s health. This program means children and their families will find Big Bird, Abby Cadabby, Elmo and other furry friends in the produce departments in grocery stores around the country.

At mealtime throughout the day and across the country, it’s important for families to have some extra support. Now that support comes in the form that is recognized by kids and trusted by parents. Like the colorful characters of Sesame Street, families’ eating habits have a bright future.