Let's be real here: the past few years have really been the rise of the graphic tees. Popular with all ages. As in, you can find them for newborns and your grandparents alike (and probably your pets, too!) - and probably in the same store aisle to boot! They are trendy and cute and it's pretty impossible to visit a public place without seeing a mom proudly wearing her "#momlife" tee while carrying a baby on her hip.
But when it comes to the tees for kiddos, we're seeing an awful lot more with food on the front. Gone are the days of flowers and trucks, enter the days of food with seemingly funny sayings on the front. Heck, you can even find rain boots with doughnuts and muffins at every department store you visit.
Well, it's time for parents everywhere to start rethinking these purchases. Why? Even though they seem cute to us, experts are weighing in and feel like these should be a big "no, no" for little ones.
Say it isn't so! But it is. Whomp Whomp. A recent study done by the University of Michigan questions if images on kids graphic tees of junk food can be doing more harm than good.
Pesch, M.D. a developmental behavioral pediatrician who studies childhood eating behaviors at University of Michigan C.S. Mott Children's Hospital, shared that, "I started thinking about how food graphics on clothing may impact kids' identification with food starting as early as when they're babies," Pesch says. "Could food on apparel be another influence on food preference and eating behaviors?"
The big takeaway was how she noticed that these tees basically turned our children into walking billboards for these not so healthy foods and reinforced the appeal of them overall.
"We spend a lot of time studying how children develop eating habits and food preferences and what we can possibly do early on to prevent obesity," she says. "Food graphics on children's products may provide insights into how society shapes children's emotional relationships with food and reinforces obesity-promoting messaging."
The research does suggest that the food preferences and eating behaviors that are formed during our childhood years get carried with us into adulthood. However, it is still unknown what messages children actually internalize whenever they are wearing graphic tees and clothing with food images on them. They are hopeful to further explore these influence in future research.