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What HBO And iCarly Can Do To Get Kids Psyched About Veggies

We've all seen the scary headlines about the obesity epidemic. And there are no shortage of initiatives aimed at getting Americans — particularly kids — to eat right.

The tricky part is making eating right cool and the sort of habit that kids will want to do for a lifetime.

So what do the earnest health officials who are always talking about this do to get their message to break through? Enlist HBO and iCarly.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention kicked off a conference today here in Washington called Weight of the Nation. And HBO is debuting a multi-part documentary of the same name next week. (You can see the trailer above.) It's not a coincidence.

But HBO is also working to get 100 salad bars up and running in selected schools across the nation by September. We asked HBO's John Hoffman, Executive Producer of the documentary, why salad bars? "Well, when kids reach for it (healthy food) themselves, and opt in, then consumption levels go up." Hoffman told us. And he went on to discuss the science behind the consumption data.

Wait, isn't HBO an entertainment company? I ribbed Hoffman for sounding more like a public policy nerd than an entertainment executive.

"I'm glad you're bringing this up!" Hoffman told me. "We're filling a space that needs to be filled." Hoffman says by turning their lens to this issue of obesity and using the HBO platform for public health, he hopes to really engage audiences around the country. "These campaigns need to be conducted," he says.

Another healthy campaign being launched this week is also a vegetable-eating one.

Who better to convince kids and tweens that eating vegetables is cool than the stars of Nickelodeon's iCarly? That's the plan Birds Eye announced as part of a commitment announced by the Partnership for a Healthier America (The group formed to oversee private sector commitments to the First Lady's Let's Move campaign.) The company says it will spend at least $2 million per year for each of the next three years to market and advertise this campaign on Nickelodeon and other outlets.

"We're not into nagging," Sally Genster Robling, president of Birds Eye Frozen Division told us. "Instead of pushing things at them (kids), we've got to put them in control." And along the way , Genster-Robling says, kids will be invited to help Birds Eye create new veggie products just for kids.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit


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