Using hip hop and graffiti to fight childhood obesity
June 15th, 2012
01:14 PM ET

Using hip hop and graffiti to fight childhood obesity

Editor's note: Dr. Kevin Strong is a pediatrician in Camden, Maine, and the founder of Dunk the Junk. For more on Kevin and Dunk the Junk, watch "Sanjay Gupta, MD" Saturday at 4:30 p.m. EST and Sunday at 7:30 a.m. EST.

As a community pediatrician, I was frustrated with my inability to effect lasting change on the dietary proclivities of my young patients. I felt hindered by the bureaucracies of "Big Medicine" and outgunned by the branding masterminds and massive pocketbooks of "Big Junk Food."

Dunk the Junk is our solution to that frustration.

We at Dunk the Junk want to educate kids on the perils of excessive junk food consumption and excite them about eating unprocessed food straight from the land. We put our emphasis on getting sugar out of the diet, particularly sugar from sugary drinks (because this is what the science tells us works the best).

In our design we made sure to incorporate what we know from the psychology literature about motivational change. Kids must be motivated to change and feel that the decision to change is their own.

We recognized that in order to reroute the gastronomical fate of our generation, we needed a campaign that could compete with the pizzaz of junk food. We chose graffiti, hip hop and acrobatic slam dunks to deliver our message.

Once we excite kids about changing their eating habits, we then show them how. We have designed a graffiti animated "Top 10 Foods to Dunk Out of Your Diet" featuring graffiti art by Mike Rich and dunking by 2011 College Dunk Champion Jacob Tucker.

The Top 10 is free for anyone to use on our website. As a supplement to this free online nutrition education we have a Top 10 Foods to Dunk Poster with stickers, which can be ordered through our site’s shopping cart. The Top 10 teaches children and families simple ways to get sugar out of their diets.

With my brother, I've also written an illustrated alphabet book to excite kids about trying new foods. It also provides an appendix in the back teaching new parents how to introduce solids to their babies in an unprocessed fashion.

To continue to disseminate our mission unhindered by the bureaucracies of large institutions and free from the financial influence of large corporations, we are committed to offering cool merchandise that functions to captivate, educate, and fiscally propagate our mission. 

Proceeds fuel the dissemination of nutrition education to those most in need.

So get out there and Dunk the Junk!

soundoff (22 Responses)
  1. dunkthejunk

    A huge thank you to the CNN team and Sanjay Gupta,MD for their keen attention to this national health crisis. Sincerely, Kevin Strong, MD and Founder of Dunk the Junk. Dunk it.

    June 15, 2012 at 23:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  2. ian monam

    If you are writing on walls you don't have permission to write on, it is graffiti. That is vandalism. If you own the walls, it is art. Childhood obesity is serious, but vandalism to promote a healthy lifestyle sound like trading one problem for another.

    June 16, 2012 at 09:10 | Report abuse | Reply
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    June 16, 2012 at 10:39 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Gallery Owner

    This is a response to Ian's narrow-minded, 1973'ish comments about graffiti above. We are talking here about a style of art. All the art in this piece took place with permission, it seems clear. "Grafitti" takes place in advertising, in galleries, in music. It is the visual expression of a vibrant American arts-culture– Hip Hop– that also includes dance (breakdancing) and music. This is art, not vandalism. As for walls, both Corporate Food and Urban Planners have a responsibility for the walls they build around our children. This looks like a fun group of doctors and artists trying to tear down the walls– let's not complain next that these walls are owned by General Foods. The only vandalism you will see with groups like this is the type they are pointing out: companies vandalizing the health of our children.

    June 17, 2012 at 11:11 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. Donell Wilson

    Personally, kids are obese because they are not active. I remember when kids use to go outside and play; now, they are glued to the tv and video games. And hell, you don't even have to stop at a fastfood place anymore, because alot of schools serve that junk right on campus.. its all about the money!! Some of these kids won't even make it to 50 if it doesn't change.

    June 18, 2012 at 07:49 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.