Did These Child Obesity Ads Go Too Far?
Fat makes us uncomfortable; it also makes us unhealthy. Which is exactly what the Children's Healthcare of Atlanta is hoping will come across with their new Strong4Life campaign that make the viewer look into the face of an obese kid with the tagline: "It is hard to be a little girl, when you aren't one."
But is it going to far? Is shame and humiliation the thing that is needed to get healthy food on the table and kids off the couch?
The ads have come under fire, but the organization is defending them saying that a brash campaign is necessary in the U.S.'s second most obese state. The ads were produced in response to a survey that said 75 percent of parents of fat kids don't realize the emotional and physical costs on the child.
But kids do. They already know that they are teased and that they are slower than their friends. They know that there are costs, but they may not know how to make changes. Their parents and guardians are the ones who need to alter their lifestyles.
But the public discussion around childhood obesity does feel like we are picking on the fat kid. Our fear of fat is so much a part of our culture that it seems like it is okay to make fat jokes on TV and lecture kids and parents constantly on a healthy diet.
I know that it is an epidemic. I know there are real physical and emotional costs to being fat. I also know that before a pre-puberty growth spurt kids can get a little chubby and feel humiliated by the rhetoric around fatness.
This iVillage article asks "Can't I just let my kid be fat and happy?" and the answer is no, you can't. But you can accept that body changes are normal to an extent, you can refuse to jump on the hysterical bandwagon. And you can fill your home with healthy options and model good behaviour around food.
Obviously, the State of Georgia felt that a shocking campaign was necessary. And since it has definitely started a national discussion of how to deal with child obesity, maybe they are right.
I hope their shame techniques also come with some easy, accessible tips and ideas on what to do next now that they have humiliated kids and their parents.
Do you think the ad campaign works? Are parents to blame if their kids are obese?
Want more chaos? Last year, I admitted to being part of the handicapped royalty, and how I was reluctantly turning my kids into royalty too.