Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, a not-for-profit healthcare organization, has published a website and ads depicting obese children and their struggles. The goal is to empower Georgians to reverse their childhood obesity trends by providing tools and support for families and children.
The ads and the youtube videos are heartbreaking.
According to the website,
- Nearly 1 million kids in Georgia are overweight or obese.
- The state of Georgia has the second worst rate of childhood obesity in the United States, falling just behind Mississippi. (Does Coca Cola’s Atlanta HQ have anything to do with this?…)
- 75% of parents in Georgia who have overweight or obese children do not recognize the problem.
The campaign has been blamed by critics as humiliating, but according to Children’s Healthcare, the vast majority of people who saw the ads and video reacted positively. Shock tactics have been used for years in ads against drugs and alcohol abuse. New York City Subways were adorned with disgusting fat ads
a few years ago.
The problem is that these advertisements are but a drop in the ocean compared to the well oiled junk food marketing machine. Sure, this obesity campaign will have its 3 minutes of fame, but come February our attention will be all about stocking up on snacks and soft drinks for the Superbowl.
If we really want to get rid of childhood obesity, we need to drastically modify the ecosystem that led us here. This means changing the types of foods that are available for cheap (Farm Bill), eliminating junk food ads aimed at kids, and creating substantial financial incentives for food companies to make healthier food.