Behavior Modification

One of the top causes of death in the United States is poor eating habits. Eating habits are formed early in childhood, and once established, they are difficult to modify. As a result, there is a need to adjust children's and teenagers' eating habits in order to help them adopt a healthy lifestyle. Bourdeaudhuij et al. conducted research throughout Europe to aid in the identification of interventions that schools might use to encourage healthy eating habits. According to the findings, the availability of nutritious foods encourages students to choose these items over bad foods. Hankey et al. conducted another research among medical practitioners to determine their attitudes, beliefs, and knowledge regarding obesity, nutrition and health. The research concluded that most of the medical practitioners felt inadequate in giving advice on weight management and healthy eating to their patients. Thus, there is the need to develop healthy eating habits among medical practitioners as they offer advice to parents on how to feed their children. In developing healthy eating habits among children and teengaers, the reward based treatment is the best method of intervention to apply. The children and teenagers will receive a reward both at home and in school to ensure that they do not only view healthy eating as a school-based activity. The use of the rewards is to motivate the children and teenagers to continually opt for healthy foods and also to challenge those ones who might still opt for unhealthy foods. The inclusion of the behavior modification project in homes will also inspire the parents to opt for healthy foods which will contribute significantly to a reduction in obesity-related diseases. Once this habit is established in childhood and teenage, these individuals are highly likely to carry on with it to their college years and eventually to their families.

Behavior Modification Project


Eating habits are developed early in life, and once they are established, it is challenging to change them. Unhealthy food is one of the leading causes of death in the United States. Statistics indicate that approximately 678000 deaths annually are related to nutrition (Center for Science in the Public Interest, 2017). Moreover, the number of individuals with obesity-related diseases that include cancer, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes is increasing significantly over the time. In the last thirty years, obesity rates have quadrupled in teenagers, tripled in young children and doubled in adults (Center for Science in the Public Interest, 2017). Therefore, there is a need to modify the behavior of children and adults and encourage them to develop healthy eating habits.

Individuals need to understand from an early age that healthy eating habits lead to a happy life. Children and teenagers ought to develop the habits of desiring healthy foods such as fruits and vegetables as compared to junk such as pizza, hot dog, and burgers. They also need to understand that habits such as smoking and drinking comprise of unhealthy feed patterns. If children and teenagers adopt a healthy diet, the rate of obesity-related diseases is likely to decrease significantly over the years. Children and adolescents are the future parents who are most liable to impact similar desires of healthy eating in coming generations. There is a need to develop ways to ensure that healthy children and teenagers develop and retain healthy eating habits to ensure they enjoy long healthy lives.

Previous Research on Promoting Healthy Eating Habits

Bourdeaudhuij et al. conducted a study to identify school-based interventions that promote both physical activity and healthy eating in Europe (Bourdeaudhuij, Cauwenberghe, Oppert, Brug, & Maes, 2011). The study aimed to systematically review the evidence of school-based interventions that target a dietary activity in students between six and twelve years in primary and twelve and eighteen years in secondary school. The responses that regulate diet for these students were evaluated in two ways. The first one was behavioral determinant which included physical activity while the second one focused on weight-related outcomes that are indicators of obesity such as body mass index.

The study was compelling as it concluded that a combination of both environmental and educational components give better and more relevant effects in promoting healthy eating habits among students both in primary and secondary schools. The research also indicated that computer-tailored personalized education in a classroom showed better results than a generic classroom curriculum. The researchers concluded that environmental interventions such as availability of healthy food options, restricted availability, and accessibility of unhealthy food options contribute to the development of healthy eating habits among students (Bourdeaudhuij, Cauwenberghe, Oppert, Brug, & Maes, 2011). However, the study failed to assess obesity related interventions for students in Europe.

Hankey et al. conducted research on eating habits, beliefs, attitudes and knowledge among health professionals regarding the links between obesity, nutrition, and health (Hankey, Eley, Leslie, & Hunter, 2007). The study aimed to document the knowledge of health professionals on the factors that affect healthy eating habits concerning obesity, nutrition, and weight management. The survey included 2290 respondents who were all members of the British Dietetic Association. The study was valid because an approximate 65% of all the participants responded to the questionnaires presented to them.

The researchers concluded that although the medical practitioners understood the link between unhealthy eating habits and the increased risk for obesity, most of them have not adopted weight management methods such preference for healthy foods (Hankey, Eley, Leslie, & Hunter, 2007). Moreover, most of the practitioners indicated that they felt ineffective in delivering weight management advice to their patients. As such, the researchers concluded that there is a need to develop healthy eating habits among practitioners in Scotland. The medical professionals are the individuals who provide advice especially to first-time parents, and therefore, they are likely to affect the development of healthy eating habits among children and adolescents significantly.

Reward- Based Treatment

I intend to promote healthy eating habits amongst children and adolescents using the reward based intervention. First, schools must ensure that there is the availability of healthy foods such as vegetables, fruits and low-calorie diets (Schwartz, 2011). Secondly, the students will be educated on the importance of choosing the healthy foods over the junk ones. They will also be directed on how to gradually develop healthy eating habits and help them understand that it is a process that needs commitment and passion. To encourage the students to opt for the healthy foods, there will be a reward for every child who chooses the healthy foods.

The incentives will range from extra servings, recognition in front of the others which will include being labeled the healthy food ambassador and special treats such as being given a present. The rewards will be based on the percent of healthy food that an individual serves and the consistency in choosing the low-calorie foods. The reward method aims at inspiring the other students to adopt eating habits (Volkow, Wang, & Baler, 2011). The other students will feel challenged to get recognition and privileges which will lead them to opt for the healthy foods.

Teenagers and young children are unlikely to understand the impact of eating unhealthy foods in their later lives. As such, the reward system of intervention will help them relate their eating habits to the impact it has on their bodies (Schwartz, 2011). They will understand that when individuals eat healthy foods, they are rewarded by having a reduced chance of getting obesity related illnesses. On the other hand, those who choose unhealthy foods are likely to struggle with obesity related disorders such as hypertension, type 2 diabetes, and cancer. The reward system will help the children relate to the benefits of healthy eating habits.

Parents also ought to understand that children also need to develop and maintain healthy eating habits even at home (Vandeweghe, et al., 2016). To ensure that children do not only live up to the practice while in school, but parents should also motivate their children to adopt healthy eating habits. Parents should also use the reward based intervention where the children are given a privilege or special treat every time they choose to eat healthy foods. Some of the special treats should include being taken out to their favorite places, permission to watch their favorite programs and even being bought for a new toy or piece of cloth. The children could also be given a chance to ask for the rewards they long wish to have.

The involvement of parents in developing and maintain healthy eating habits will ensure that the children and adolescents realize its importance in life (Yee & Lwin, 2010). They will not only view it as a school-based activity but as a life term commitment. Moreover, the involvement of the children in choosing their rewards will help them feel that they are a part of the behavior modification. The children will become enthusiastic towards the behavior change as it will not appear like a forced practice (Yee & Lwin, 2010). Finally, the involvement of the parents will challenge them also to adopt healthy eating habits which will contribute significantly to reducing the prevalence of obesity related conditions (Vandeweghe, et al., 2016).

Just and Price conducted research to identify the role of incentives in encouraging healthy eating habits among children (Just & Price, 2013). The study focused on schools with kids from low-income families as it also sought to reduce the level of food wastage. The experiment included children who were selected on a random basis, and the researchers concluded that the children increased their intake of vegetables and fruits by almost eighty percent due to the incentives (Just & Price, 2013). As such, reward based treatment is an effective method to motivate children and teenagers to adopt and establish healthy eating habits.


The development of healthy eating habits will help children and teenagers to realize the need of opting for fruits, vegetables, fresh juices and low-calorie foods in restaurants, parties and at home as opposed to pizza, fries, chicken, and soda. The desire and preference created using the reward system will not change as they grow up and even in their college years they will prefer healthy food alternatives. When they become parents, they will end up impacting similar habits to their children and motivating them to adopt the behavior fully. As such, healthy diet will make not only a difference in their lives but also that of their future families. The reward based intervention is the best fit for children and teenagers because it helps establish behavior once it has been formed.


Bourdeaudhuij, D., Cauwenberghe, V., Oppert, S., Brug, R., & Maes, L. (2011). School- Based Interventions Promoting both Physical Activity and Healthy Eating in Europe: A Systematic Review Within the HOPE Project. Obesity Reviews, 12(3), 205-216.

Center for Science in the Public Interest. (2017). Why Good Nutrition is Important. Retrieved from

Hankey, C., Eley, S., Leslie, W., & Hunter, C. (2007). Eating Habits, Beliefs, Attitudes, and Knowledge among Health Professionals Regarding the Links between Obesity, Nutrition, and Health. Public Health Nutrition, 7(2), 337-343.

Just, D., & Price, J. (2013). Using Incentives to Encourage Healthy Eating in Children. The Journal of Human Resources, 48(4), 854-871.

Schwartz, C. (2011). Development of Healthy Eating Habits Early in Life: Review of Recent Evidence and Selected Guidelines. Appetite, 57(3), 796-807.

Vandeweghe, L., Moes, E., Braet, C., Lippevelde, W., Vervoort, L., & Verbeken, S. (2016). Perceived Effective and Feasible Strategies to Promote Healthy Eating in Young Children: Focus Groups with Parents, Family Child Care Providers, and Daycare Assistants. BMC Public Health, 16(1045), 1-10.

Volkow, N., Wang, G., & Baler, R. (2011). Reward, Dopamine and the Control of Food Intake: Implications for Obesity. Trends in Cognitive Sciences, 15(11), 37-46.

Yee, A., & Lwin, M. (2010). The Influence of Parental Practices on Child Promotive and Preventive Food Consumption Behaviors: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. International Journal of Nutritional Behavior and Physical Activity, 14(1), 40-47.

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