Anti-Obesity Ads 'Shame' Fat Kids for a Good Reason

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anti-obesity adsAt first, the anti-obesity advertisements featured in a Georgia campaign seem like a cruel joke. Pudgy, round, and yes, just plain fat kids are featured in a series of print and television advertisements with harsh messages like "Fat prevention begins at home and the buffet line" and "My fat may be funny to you, but it's killing me."

Is this just fat shaming taken to a new low level? Many think so, with plenty outraged at the advertisements. But I think they just may be the kind of powerful and poignant messages parents need to hear to help their kids get healthy.

Obesity is a problem, plain and simple; Georgia holds the title for the second highest childhood obesity rates. The scariest part is that most parents don't think their obese children are obese. In research conducted by Strong4Life, co-founded by Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, it was found that 75 percent of parents whose children are overweight or obese don't see a problem. That's a BIG problem.

Arguments against so-called fat shaming usually go along the lines of hey, we know we're fat, telling us so just makes us feel bad and doesn't help. I have mixed feelings on that whole debate when it comes to adults, but when it comes to these kids, they may not even know they have a problem if their parents don't. How do they have any chance of fighting it, if they don't know it's something to fight? It's a parent's job to take care of their child's health, and helping them maintain a healthy weight is part of the deal -- a very important part of the deal.

Yes, obesity runs in some families, and some people have a harder time staying slim than others, but for most, it's about poor nutrition and a lack of exercise -- things that CAN be corrected if people, especially parents, try. It's not easy, I know. No matter how many organic fruits and vegetables I bring home, my kids salivate at the sight of junk food. Hell, so do I, but we work to balance it all because I want my kids to be healthy -- it's a priority. If parents aren't making similar choices, then yes, they do need a wake-up call to do so -- no matter how harsh the message may be. It's a harsh problem.

Some say it just adds to the social stigma of being overweight, but honestly I'm not sure anything can be added there. It's there, and it's unfortunate, but calling fat what it is isn't cruel, it's identifying a problem that needs to be solved. Solving it is complex, yes, but it can't start until people recognize it as a problem.

The most worrisome part of the advertisements I see is the kids actually posing for them; they break my heart. What kind of treatment are they going to get at school when they're literally the poster children for fat kids? But they seem to be strong in support of the message. As 14-year-old Maya Walters told The Atlanta Journal Constitution:

I think it's very brave to talk about the elephant in the room. It’s very provocative and makes people uncomfortable, but it’s when people are uncomfortable that change comes.

Bravo to all of them for being courageous enough to participate.

Will these ads solve the childhood obesity problem in Georgia? Certainly not, and no, they don't offer any solutions for fixing the problem. But will they make a mom pause before picking up a bag of potato chips or detouring through a drive-thru instead of making dinner? Perhaps, and if parents need a harsh glaring message to help them make such decisions for their children and set a good example, then so be it. As the ads say, we need to stop sugarcoating it.

What do you think of these anti-obesity advertisements? Too harsh, or effective?


Image via YouTube

in the news, kid health, kids nutrition

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MIA0223 MIA0223

Harsh is needed.

This obesity "epidemic" is too much. Why don't parents set their.kids up for the best.in life?

nonmember avatar Stephanie

How about teaching children how to love themselves, regardless of what weight they are? That's a bigger problem in my opinion.

nonmember avatar Emily

I personally don't think this is a good way to help the situation. If you say the target is the parents then talk to the parents - don't use kids for shock value ( regardless of how shocking it may be). We live in a society full of bully's and this seems to me like state approved bullying.

Eques... EquestrianMom

I see a range of kids at my riding school. I noticed something right away, a lot of my larger kids are just fine with their weight, they are aware that they are big, but are just fine with it. I know not all kids are, some have self esteem issues, but some do not. And they aren't motivated to lose the weight either. One girl was having trouble physically doing what was needed to ride (she tips the scales at 185lbs and 4'11" at 13 yrs old) and she says her mom and dad are big, so what should be expected of her? Besides (she says) she's adorable and curvy, so who cares? 


 She finally started losing weight because she couldn't mount alone, didn't fit in her saddle, and had to move to a new riding horse because our old faithful (and favorite of hers) has back issues and cannot carry her weight for more then a few minutes. Now she's deiting, working out, and visiting our stable to work more to lose the weight. I think some kids need the shock factor, and thewakeup call, obese is not ok and not acceptable, yes, it's great to love yourself, but if you do, you should love yourself enough to fight to be healthy!

nonmember avatar Shelly

Stephanie - Stephanie, I'm sorry, but no one should LOVE being obese. It is not OK to love your obese body and "accept" it. I'm sick of having to be PC and tell people "to just love themselves, and their bodies." How about we teach them loving themselves means not being obese? Medical reasons excluded, there is NO reason for kids to be obese. It's repulsive to suggest we teach them to love their obese bodies. Love themselves, yes. Love themselves enough to stop being unhealthy, yes.

Ohmys... Ohmyskittles

Stephane, wouldn't a child love themselves more if they conquered obesity and learned to live and healthy life style? Their self-confidence and pride would go up if they fought this battle and made a personal change for the better. I have a friend who recently lost 60 pounds. She loved herself before, but after she lost the weight she was GLOWING! She was just beaming with self-confidence that she didn't have before.

Kritika Kritika

Um have ya'll noticed the recipes you feature on this website? Buffalo chicken lasanga? Give your kids a salad and some grilled chicken for dinner instead. No wonder...

ashja ashja

You wouldn't tell an anorexic that it's fine to weigh that little as long as they love themselves and you shouldn't tell an obese kid that either.

phoen... phoenixmom2011

First off no amount of healthy eating is going to matter if you don't get up and move. So advertise all you want that it is because of food choices it will only set people and children up for disaster and failure. Adults need to stop sitting in front of tv's and computers and get outside with their kids and play. I know at somepoint children become teens who think they are to old to play that is when it is important to have your kids in sports, cheer, karate, dance track anything that will make them move.

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