HIP HOP Makes Junk Food Unhip


In Overweight: What Kids Say, Dr. Pretlow writes,

What is really needed is a cultural shift in regard to highly pleasurable food, so that overeating is ‘not cool’ and so that junk food is ‘yuck.’

If the culture is moldable, these are the very people to do it: D-Nick The Microphone Misfit and B-Boy Super inLight, a pair of Chicago musicians who bring a message of “junk food is ‘yuck.'” They’re against artificial or processed foods, and they encourage their peers to be against deceptively food-like substances, too. One of their catchphrases is, “You don’t wanna have that stuff affecting your reality.” We are introduced to these activists by Kerry Trueman, via Huffington Post. Trueman is a believer in edible landscaping and sustainable agriculture, and the co-founder of a group called Eating Liberally.

D-Nick and Super inLight may be new to some of us, but the movement they are associated with has been around for a while. The HIP HOP acronym stands for “Healthy Independent People Helping Other People,” and it grew out of the Southwest Youth Collaborative, originally organized by the Chicago public schools in 1992.

At several sites throughout the metropolis, institutions offer after-school programs that help kids stay out of various kinds of trouble, including problem eating. The possibilities run from SAT test preparation to photography, poetry, life skills, and community organizing. And, oh yes — rapping, emceeing, graffiti-style art, and break-dancing — in other words, activities that kids actually enjoy. Any city interested in putting new programs in place to fight childhood obesity might take a look at how this Chicago program has only survived but thrived.

Getting back to Kerry Trueman’s review, her article includes the video link to “Abnormality,” as well as the complete lyrics, written by D-Nick the Microphone Misfit. The song was created for the grand opening of a health food store called Graffiti and Grub. It’s too late to vote for this video in the “One Chicago, One Nation” film competition, as this article encourages, but that’s okay, we can still share it and turn people on to it.

In the video’s narrative, Super inLight falls by D-Nick’s crib and freaks out over what he finds in the kitchen cabinets. He exclaims,

I had no idea you were eating like this
Why would you ever put that on your grocery list?

The guest goes on to enumerate many of the adverse health effects caused or aggravated by junk food. Then he brings up some ethical and philosophical points:

You wouldn’t pay your bills with counterfeit money
So why would you put something counterfeit in your tummy?
You won’t give ya mama artificial love
So why would you feast on artificial grub?

In Dr. Pretlow’s book, he talks about the likelihood that restricting access to junk food and fast food might have any impact on the epidemic of childhood obesity. Maybe, maybe not. With human nature being what it is, categorizing anything as a forbidden fruit often has unintended consequences. Categorizing it as uncool, however, just might work.

Junk food as “yuck,” precisely! Take a minute to make this comparison. Despite years of education, a lot of people are still addicted to tobacco, and more get their habits started every day. In many people’s minds, there is still an aura of coolness around this habit. On the other hand, chewing tobacco is equally as addictive, but it’s not a habit you see practiced much in the USA. It’s just not cool! So, obviously, there is a cultural factor. If one bad habit can be squelched by peer-group pressure, maybe another one can also. It’s very encouraging that artists like Super inLight and D-Nick are dedicating their talents to influencing the zeitgeist.

Your responses and feedback are welcome!

Source: “Cast Your Vote For a Hip Hop Video That Captures the ‘Abnormality’ of Junk Food,” Huffington Post, 05/06/10
Source: “Southwest Youth Services Collaborative,” The Chicago Community Trust
Source: “Overweight: What Kids Say,” Amazon.com
Screen capture of LinkTV used under Fair Use: Reporting.

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Profiles: Kids Struggling with Weight

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The Book

OVERWEIGHT: What Kids Say explores the obesity problem from the often-overlooked perspective of children struggling with being overweight.

About Dr. Robert A. Pretlow

Dr. Robert A. Pretlow is a pediatrician and childhood obesity specialist. He has been researching and spreading awareness on the childhood obesity epidemic in the US for more than a decade.
You can contact Dr. Pretlow at:


Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the American Society of Animal Science 2020 Conference
What’s Causing Obesity in Companion Animals and What Can We Do About It

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the World Obesity Federation 2019 Conference:
Food/Eating Addiction and the Displacement Mechanism

Dr. Pretlow’s Multi-Center Clinical Trial Kick-off Speech 2018:
Obesity: Tackling the Root Cause

Dr. Pretlow’s 2017 Workshop on
Treatment of Obesity Using the Addiction Model

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation for
TEC and UNC 2016

Dr. Pretlow’s invited presentation at the 2015 Obesity Summit in London, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s invited keynote at the 2014 European Childhood Obesity Group Congress in Salzburg, Austria.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2013 European Congress on Obesity in Liverpool, UK.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2011 International Conference on Childhood Obesity in Lisbon, Portugal.

Dr. Pretlow’s presentation at the 2010 Uniting Against Childhood Obesity Conference in Houston, TX.

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