As a millennial, I regularly find myself bombarded by the media with a million ways that will classify me as a healthy person. Considered healthy by what standards, healthy by whom…I do not know, but I can say confidently that I have never had a clear, holistic idea of how it is I can maintain a ‘healthy’ lifestyle.
As an adolescent, in this era of increasingly health conscious people, the more awareness I have of the media’s contradictory and spasmodic health messages, the more difficult I find it to piece these segments of information together to understand a ‘healthy diet’. I’m overwhelmed just listing a few of the food cults I’ve come across; “Paleo, Pescatarian, Fruitarian, Vegan, Vegetarian, Gluten-Free, Lactose-Free, Organic, Unprocessed, Raw…”
Basically, understanding the significance of what these all mean is like trying to force the missing pieces of different puzzles together; hard, frustrating, and of the high risk of me breaking something.
From my observations, this is not an uncommon feeling at all. (Anyone who has borne witness to my mother, ‘food cult chameleon’, would agree). But naturally, if that is true and other people feel this same confusion, would this not affect a lot of people’s capabilities in determining what a healthy diet is? Perhaps the consequences of these mixed messages are already identifiable within the millennial generation. Growing up in a society in which 1 in 5 adolescents are severely overweight, the rising obesity epidemic is justification enough to investigate our youths’ understanding of nutrition. Could a lack of understanding in good eating be a potential barrier to curing Australia’s largest overweight segment?
Through qualitative research methods like focus groups, interviews and surveys, I plan to investigate the millennial generation and synthesise a general consensus (if any) of what they perceive as ‘a healthy diet’. As some individuals are defensive and sometimes overly passionate about their eating choices, I will aim to ensure each question I pose to participants are respectful and purely observational. I will also try to quantify how many of these participants consciously make effort to have a healthy diet, regardless of a method’s legitimacy, and how many individuals are too overwhelmed by these ideas of ‘what is good food’ to uphold any pretence of a healthy lifestyle.
Ultimately, I am interested in exploring this grey area by identifying (through a sample of millennials) how the media’s contradicting messages of health affect society. In doing this, perhaps we millennials can inspire the development of a cohesive public understanding of nutrition which, would not just cut health costs and heighten life expectancies, but would create a sense of continuity in the progression of health education.
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