Kids' Controversial Obesity Ads in Georgia Stir Up Criticism, Yet Provoke Change
When children are overweight, do you get in their faces and try to force them to do something to improve their health, risking their anger, hurt and rebellion? Do you tiptoe around the issue, trying not to hurt their feelings, watching them get fatter? Either way, you may be blamed. For every kid there is no one right answer. But what to do? The obesity epidemic amongst kids isn't appearing to go away and perhaps ad campaigns might be one way to confront the issue. How the campaign presents the problem, though, shouldn't become the issue.
Unfortunately, this appears to be behind the controversy generated by public service announcement ads dealing with overweight kids that have aired in Georgia. A series of black and white, cryptic anti-obesity spots featuring dejected, overweight kids has caused critics to froth and advocates to spew!
What's the problem with these ads if children are discussing their fat issues interspersed amongst scary comments like, “Some diseases aren’t just for adults anymore,” and “Being fat takes the fun out of being a kid?” Isn't a child's obesity, especially in Georgia, with the second highest obesity rate in the US and nearly one million obese kids, an emergency? And if 75 percent of the parents of obese children don't recognize it as a problem, shouldn't they be shamed and shaken into that reality which is what the ads appear to be doing?
The Strong4Life campaign, part of a $50 million action instituted by Children's Healthcare of Atlanta was meant to be grim so that parents acknowledge their children's ill health. Childhood obesity cannot be ignored because of the disease factors erupting like never before amongst children, for example,Type 2 diabetes. According to Linda Matzgkeit, senior vice president at Children's Healthcare, their agency sees kids with heart disease and diabetes and even those who need knee replacements, because of the weight pressure grinding down the fragile growing joints. “We never used to see those kinds of things,”said Matzgkeit.Continued on the next page