As we lay down our plans and goals for the New Year we should remember to think of how we can improve our children’s lives as well. A recent ad campaign in Georgia wants parents to wake up and help their kids get healthy in 2012. The ads, which are causing some controversy, feature kids speaking candidly about what it feels like to be overweight.
Shot in black and white, the children have a serious confessional tone while they recount all of the issues overweight children must deal with on a daily basis in between messages that flash on the screen like, “Being fat takes the fun out of being a kid.”
A recent report from the NY Daily News discusses the ads in Georgia, where childhood obesity is a serious problem ranking 2nd in the nation. Senior vice president at Children’s Healthcare, Linda Matzigkeit, is quoted defending the harshness of the ads’ tone. Matzigkeit says, “We felt like we needed a very arresting, abrupt campaign that said: ‘Hey Georgia! Wake up. This is a problem’ If we do not wake up, this will be disastrous for our state.”
Those that take issue with the ads think they may cause more harm than good, lowering a child’s self-confidence and making them feel guilty for being overweight. Some also say the ads are nothing but shock value and offer no solution for parents to help their kids get healthy.
What do you think of these controversial anti-childhood obesity ads? Do they send a helpful message to kids and parents?
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Maybe a better perspective on the ad would have been something targeted directly to parents. There are a lot of ads on now that encourage kids to get out and play (the NFL Play 60, the Arbor Day nature ads, etc.) that show during kids programs on Saturday morning (yes, we watch them together). The parents are the ones who can make a crucial difference by selecting or preparing healthy but interesting meals, organizing family hikes/walks/game time, and limiting kids' face time on tv/computer/video games. Childhood obesity is becoming a greater problem in the US and some nonprofits (the Junior League, for example, with its Kids in the Kitchen program) are doing what they can, but families can definitely work on this together in a fun way!
I think that overweight children have enough attention on them. Why are we blasting them on TV? When they go to school they get picked on and laughed at as it is.
As a Registered Dietitian, I oppose these ads. The kids are not at fault but the ads with an obese child will leave these kids thinking they are the fault. The problem starts at poor parenting skills at home. These parents are not "bad" or abusive parents but are not motivated enough to make changes in their own lives, let alone their children. The problem is a societal one - parents, other adults in children's lives, schools, government programs like SNAP, school lunch programs and food manufacturers and fast food restaurants (I blame more the parents who purchase these items)! Obesity rises as income decreases. The SNAP (food stamps) needs to restrict the types of foods that can be purchased. WIC has already done it.
This ad may be meant for parents, but kids are definitely viewing it. Why do we have to make overweight children feel even worse than they already do? Why is it so easily accepted that they are harassed at school? Should we make them feel as though it will all get better if they just lose weight? Yes, obesity in children is a problem, and for their sakes, it needs to be dealt with. But, let's not make them feel like they are less than any other child, and even more importantly, let's teach our children how horrible it is to bully someone. Don't let obesity be the last acceptable form of discrimination.
The ads aren't meant for the kids, they are meant for the parents to understand what their children are going through growing up, being taunted and ridiculed. They are shocking but I find them more sad that a sweet little girl like that doesn't want to go to school because she's being teased. If that were my little girl I'd be devastated. Those claiming that there is no solution well it's an ad not a play by play, they offer a website that they are promoting, strong4life.com where there are tips, ways to approach your doctor etc. On a different note the obesity problem isn't just about food. It's definitely about mobility. When I was a child we were always running around outside, riding our bikes and playing. Kids don't do this anymore, they are too plugged in: Meaning tied to their playstations, tvs, cell phones etc. Try unplugging and getting them outside. And that might mean mom and dad may need to unplug too.