I know obesity is a topic we have covered a lot lately, but I am going to add another one to the group.
Is this the wrong way to go about the issue? Will it hurt more than it will help? Or is it a needed jolt in order to get people to be more proactive about addressing the weight issues their children might have?
You can see a sample ad by using the link, there are also links to the commercial ads:
Stark billboards and television commercials that feature overweight kids are part of a controversial anti-obesity campaign in Atlanta. The goal of the "Stop Sugarcoating It, Georgia" ads is to shock families into recognizing that obesity is a problem.
The campaign is making an impact, but the tactics are raising questions.
One of the ads features a little boy and his mom entering a room with two folding chairs. They're both clearly overweight. They sit and look at each other.
"Mom, why am I fat?" the boy asks her.
The mother bows her head, and the tag line appears. It reads: "75 percent of Georgia parents with overweight kids don't recognize the problem." Georgia has the second highest number of obese kids in the country, behind Mississippi.
In another spot, a young girl speaks directly to the camera about a disease she says she has.
"My doctor says I have something called hypertension," she says. "I'm really scared."
The ads are modeled after anti-smoking and anti-methamphetamine campaigns intended to shock the audience.
"It has to be harsh. If it's not, nobody's going to listen," says Linda Matzigkeit, vice president of Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, the pediatric hospital running the campaign.
She says parents are in denial. Nearly 1 million Georgia kids are overweight or obese. "This is a medical crisis, and I say if you don't believe me, come visit our hospital and see the kids we are now taking care of ? that more and more have Type 2 diabetes, have hypertension, need knee replacements ? and it's breaking our heart to see these adult-type diseases in the children that we serve," she says.
But some question the strategy. According to Rodney Lyn of Georgia State University's Institute of Public Health, "This campaign is more negative than positive."
Living Large: Obesity In America
Based on his research, Lyn says, the ads can hurt the very market they're targeting. "We know that stigmatization leads to lower self-esteem, potential depression. We know that kids will engage in physical activity less because they feel like they're going to be embarrassed. So there are all these other negative effects," he says.
The ads are part of a five-year, $25 million anti-obesity effort. It includes training pediatricians, getting programs in schools, and setting up a clinic to treat the medical and psychological issues related to obesity.
Gayla Grubbs owns a sandwich shop in Griffin, Ga. Her son Sam, 15, is obese. Grubbs says she's not upset by the anti-obesity ads that have raised controversy here.
Obesity is defined as body mass index greater than or equal to sex- and age-specific 95th percentile CDC growth charts from 2000.
Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Credit: Stephanie d'Otreppe/NPR
"It plants a seed. And what we do with that is our responsibility," she says.
Grubbs says she realized her son needed help, so she took him to the Children's Healthcare clinic last year.
"I wanted to give Sam every opportunity to feel good about himself and to get healthy," she says.
Grubbs says she didn't tell Sam he was going to the clinic until they started driving there. Sam says he didn't really mind.
"I was being bullied a lot because of my weight, and after I started losing it, it cut down quite a lot. They don't call me names or anything like that anymore," Sam says.
"It's a self-esteem issue," his mother says. "If you feel better about yourself, you're going to carry yourself differently; and so that has helped."
Sam has lost 20 pounds so far, and wants to lose another 50 by the end of the year.
"I've been cutting back on my portion sizes a whole lot. Instead of like four or so pieces of pizza, I only have about two," he says.
And Sam says he doesn't eat pizza or fast food much anymore.
This kind of family intervention is exactly what health officials hope to see more of.
The second phase of the Children's Healthcare ad campaign is about to begin. Officials say it will focus on encouraging adults ? parents, teachers and grandparents ? to take action.
Last edited by KimPossible; 01-10-2012 at 12:33 PM.
I'm torn on this one.
I get what people are saying about stigmatizing these kids. I get that those would be hard images to face. I do think some people will be hurt by this sort of campaign. It is negative.
But, it isn't as if you can put a positive spin on childhood obesity. It is negative. It is a serious problem, and apparently especially bad in that region. Maybe a reality jolt is what is needed? Like, it talks about in the article. It isn't the kids, it is their parents, and their inability or unwillingness to address the issue.
Kids suffering from type 2 diabetes, hypertension, gall bladder attacks, needing knee replacements, etc is just horrendous. I can't help but think that if this campaign brings awareness and helps some kids, it will be worth it.
People always get pissed off when you bring attention to their faults, sometimes it is needed though.
-Alissa, mom to Tristan (5) and Reid (the baby!)
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I tend to agree with Kris. This was just posted on a FB site I love "The Healthy body project" and reading the comments is very interesting. I can see how this will upset folks and get people defensive, but that does not necessarily mean that it is a bad thing.
One comment that stood out to me was this:
I do agree with that.Fat is a SIGNAL that something is wrong in the child's environment. NOT something wrong with the CHILD.
That is a good quote and bang on accurate. That should be posted on billboards.
I think something has to be done-- but I don't know the right strategy.
I do think we've become pretty complacent about obesity and general health in our country. It astounds me that as a healthy weight person, I often get ridiculed when I travel to certain regions of the country (not so much here....people are ridiculously healthy here..... )
It is sad to me to think that parents don't recognize their child's weight problem-- amazing. We have to start talking about this and addressing it-- and likely we'll ruffle some feathers when we do so.
I really like that quote. I just wonder if parents have the tools to "fix" the problem. I'm not sure simply calling it out works. They need to say something like, stop feeding your kids premade freezer meals and mac and cheese, go for a walk, turn on the tv, etc. I think parents are just raising their kids the way they were raised and I"m not sure they know a different way.
I'm not excusing their choices, but I'm not certain they know how to identify the culprit of their weight troubles (and truly believe it is entirely genetic....)
DD 8.03, DD 6.05, DS 3.07, DD 5.09, and DS arrived 6.17.12
As for the ad itself, I do think that it would draw negative attention to the kids. Why can't they focus on healthy eating and exercising in a positive way to help the kids feel better in how they breathe and move? Make it a state goal to be #2 healthiest in the nation rather than #2 least healthy in the nation. Kids love goals and rewards for meeting goals, they certainly can come up with a school wellness program to encourage kids instead of posting negative advertising. Direct the negative attention to the parents, not the kids.
DD Twins: 8/4/09 @ 35 Wks - No NICU, woot!
Unfortunately I think that the parents are a huge (no pun intended) part of the problem with childhood obesity, maybe taking the message right to the kids will be more effective in enacting change for these poor kids.
Unfortunately, in certain regions raising a large child (especially a large boy) is considered an accomplishment or something to be proud of. (And no, I'm not kidding.) I've heard parents comment and even brag about how much their child can eat and how much bigger he/she is than the other children. It is almost as if it is a contest to see who can "grow" the biggest child! There is little or no thought about the health issues or self esteem issues that tend to arise from obesity, and the kids are left suffering for their parents' idiotic choices. Maybe, just maybe, these ads will be a wake up call for ignorant parents that think "bigger is better."
This site clearly explains how a child's weights is assessed. Height, weight, body composition, and age are all taken into consideration.
It is a very comprehensive approach. Doctors aren't just labeling children obese willy-nilly. It is a serious diagnosis.
Tracey, I don't get how you can avoid the clear fact that way too many kids are overweight or obese. Children should be the epitome of health. They shouldn't be dealing with any health issues ideally, never mind things like hypertension, sore knees, diabetes. Frankly, I think the exact thought process in your post is the driving problem behind this epidemic - it is the "The chart was wrong", "My kid is just bigger than some of the others", "It's genetic, it can't be helped", "I'm doing my best! Don't anyone dare say otherwise!" mentality.
Last edited by kris_w; 01-11-2012 at 06:07 PM.