Controversy Over Childhood Obesity Ads in Georgia

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.

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  • http://twitter.com/alyssarimmer Alyssa Rimmer

    Great post! Even though these ads may seem humiliating for some and I feel badly for the children that are depicted in these ads, this is one of the most important issues that faces our country today. We are living in a country full of unhealthy people and we’re setting our kids up for failure. I hope that people who see these ads in GA take them seriously and take a step back to examine how they are feeding their own children. This is definitely a step in the right direction! Thanks for sharing!

  • http://twitter.com/kenleebow Ken Leebow

    In Atlanta, we are now super-sizing pizza. I attended a kid’s birthday party at this pizza joint and was amazed by the size of the pizza and the slices. 

    Sadly, many of the patrons were super-sized too.

    Here’s a pic of the pizza … http://bit.ly/uhio9P

  • Michele

    Truth hurts.

    • Livingfitnesslife

      I agree, yes, truth hurts. Maybe the ads can be toned down but in reality sometimes the scare tactic works.

  • Ds Cleaning

    In my opinion physical labor and avoiding junk foods(like:fast food,cold drinks) is a possible solution for this problem.And children around the developing countries are suffering from this problem.More study on this problem is required.

    Cleaning

  • http://twitter.com/AbsurdGrace Sophia Grace

    Ugh… I don’t like the
    advertisements. I do think that obesity in children is related to
    parental understanding and education, but I don’t think it’s anyone’s
    job to “fix” that. But, I do believe the culprit is allowing/encouraging children
    to eat non-food food. Perhaps it should be less of a finger-pointing
    thing and more of a… public service announcement. “If you don’t know
    the difference between food & non-food food, you could be risking
    your child’s life, wellness, and prosperity.”

  • Thewholebeet

    Yes!!!

  • Hate is Healthy

    These advertisements are critical to recruit even more bigots to the foodie cause and keep everyone’s hate focused upon fleshy folk. Overweight is a convenient visible target. Fat bashing is a tremendous social pressure release valve, desperately needed ever since civil rights took hold.

    The foodie movement is a bastion of elitism and bigotry but, of course, food snobs will deny it. They should not deny it , they should showcase it and trumpet their accomplishment. So much better to have hatemongers blathering on and on about eating and body weight than to have them go back to burning buses and physically beating ethnic victims.

  • Hate is Healthy

    These advertisements are critical to recruit even more bigots to the foodie cause and keep everyone’s hate focused upon fleshy folk. Overweight is a convenient visible target. Fat bashing is a tremendous social pressure release valve, desperately needed ever since civil rights took hold.

    The foodie movement is a bastion of elitism and bigotry but, of course, food snobs will deny it. They should not deny it , they should showcase it and trumpet their accomplishment. So much better to have hatemongers blathering on and on about eating and body weight than to have them go back to burning buses and physically beating ethnic victims.

  • Roxanekelly

    I totally agree with the ads. Something definately needs done or our children will die young from multiple health problems.

  • Linda Hewitt

    Do you really think fat kids are not aware that they are different in a bad way? They are fully aware and feel ashamed. 
    They do not have the option to choose healthy food for themselves. Their parents provide most of the FOOD they eat.These kids need to be educated in healthy eating, encouraged to use play as physical exercise and enrolled in groups that encourage healthful activities for a lifetime of pride and self confidence. Busy, busy, busy and only a minor amount of the day focused on food would enhance the lives of these kids. There is so much more going on inside of each overweight child than what appears from the outside. They are in pain. They cry at night. They pray to God that they will somehow lose weight and fit in with their peers.Forceful education at all levels is necessary~at home, at school, at community centers, at hospitals. We spend millions of dollars trying to fix problems as people age with diabetes, heart surgery etc. Why not provide all kids with medical programs that monitor their activity and wellness so that we help to produce more healthy, active, connected adults.Not all family situations are equal~ a program made AVAILABLE TO ALL CHILDREN regardless of family income or lack thereof is a must. The working poor are often caught in the middle and not eligible for assistance. There must be NO discrimination. It takes a whole village to raise a healthy child.  

  • Linda Hewitt

    Do you really think fat kids are not aware that they are different in a bad way? They are fully aware and feel ashamed. 
    They do not have the option to choose healthy food for themselves. Their parents provide most of the FOOD they eat.These kids need to be educated in healthy eating, encouraged to use play as physical exercise and enrolled in groups that encourage healthful activities for a lifetime of pride and self confidence. Busy, busy, busy and only a minor amount of the day focused on food would enhance the lives of these kids. There is so much more going on inside of each overweight child than what appears from the outside. They are in pain. They cry at night. They pray to God that they will somehow lose weight and fit in with their peers.Forceful education at all levels is necessary~at home, at school, at community centers, at hospitals. We spend millions of dollars trying to fix problems as people age with diabetes, heart surgery etc. Why not provide all kids with medical programs that monitor their activity and wellness so that we help to produce more healthy, active, connected adults.Not all family situations are equal~ a program made AVAILABLE TO ALL CHILDREN regardless of family income or lack thereof is a must. The working poor are often caught in the middle and not eligible for assistance. There must be NO discrimination. It takes a whole village to raise a healthy child.  

    • Mikes

      “Do you really think fat kids are not aware that they are different in a bad way?”

      Yes and no.  Overweight is the “normal” in the U.S. these days.  A healthy weight is now viewed as “too thin” (for adults and kids.)  It is certainly possible that some overweight kids don’t really know it because they are, in fact, average. 

  • Lleebrewster2

    Awareness necessary for change but believe positive messages showing how to begin making simple changes can make a big difference. Entire family needs to be a work in progress. Change happened at my house over time and effort. Proud to say my daughters once obese are now adults normal BMI with healthy diet and exercise. Now I learn from them as we share healthy recipes. Change is possable..never give up. Laura

  • Theresard

    What I see having two children, one that is 12 and the other 16; is at EVERY kid event, parents are pushing the junk food. Last Friday, kids are given soda to drink at half time during their break from pep band; son goes to sleepover, what did you eat? double cheese pizza last night and cinnamon rolls for breakfast ( a lot them he says) At track meets, my friend who is a RD, is aghast at what parents bring to refuel their kids. It is just nuts and out of hand. I know parents proud of their obese kids as they are football players, so it’s not a bad thing to the coaches or the parent then! It just feels so overwhelming and hopeless for these kids until they are grown and can decide, but then odds are against them to get it under control. Also, my son is thin despite eating this type of food so frequently at events or friends homes. But, overall he mainly eats when he’s hungry, stops when he’s full. We have regular meals, etc.. eat wide variety of foods.

  • http://www.fulldishclosure.com/ Amanda Trevelino

    As an Atlantan I see the ads. As a parent I see that at this weeks middle school basketball game the booster club is giving away free hotdogs. What’s a kid, of any size, to do? They’re bombarded with misinformation. Every party involves a pizza, and even the vegetarian options are all about cheese. Why do we dumb down food choices for our children. They are smart enough to learn that eating man-made foods (anything out of a package), rather than earth-grown foods (aka fruits and vegetables) allows someone else to make money off their future ill health. Children’s healthcare encourages more exercise and “healthy” food choices. But no one demonstrates what a healthy food choice is. 

  • Gerome

    Before passing judgement on these ads, it’s important to consider where the ads are playing. No, it is not appropriate to shame an overweight kid. But if these ads are aimed at mom and dad who throw up their hands and the idea of helping their kids manage their weight and health, I think this is an effective approach. It seems like the web site is a place designed for parents… and if the ads are in the right place (and not in schools), I think they’re okay.

    Parent who do not create the opportunity for a fat kid to change their behavior should have daily reminders that they are contributing to making their kids miserable and unhealthy.

  • Peg

    If shaming worked, there would be no fat people! The system of marketing and subsidies needs to change. In the mean time focusing on the food and the joys of the less processed, healthier stuff need to proceed in a sensitive and positive way. Take people where they are, and help them change at the pace they can.

  • Kurebrat

    Take the growth hormone’s out of our food and maybe they would have a normal weight! Not develop so fast and get off there ADD drugs!

  • Kurebrat

    Take the growth hormone’s out of our food and maybe they would have a normal weight! Not develop so fast and get off there ADD drugs!

    • Sdelk416

      yes !! a doctor told me that is why the little girls are developing breasts so soon…hormones in all the chicken nuggets…

  • Petepilot

    Since when was the truth a bad thing? The stakes are incredibyt high – we are talking of these children losing decades of their life before it really starts. The next step is to insist on non GMO, non processed, healthy foods.

  • Laura Lee

    Lead by example. Kids get so many mixed messages we need to empower them to be part of the solution..take them to grocery store..teach them to read food labels and basic cooking skills. Challenge yourself to have creative solutions and celebrate your success with others. I will say stay the course inspite of fund raisers selling candy bars..when my kids coached I suggested giving parents list of better choices to bring for snacks. Laura

  • Bonita M.

    Fat bashing is so much fun!! And now that it is stylish and politically correct everyone can join in. Yay!

  • http://www.herbaldiet.com/ Herbalife

    I totally agree with your post. We can’t blame anyone for this. It would be much better if we change the system as you’ve mentioned above.

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  • Cindy

    What are we going to do shame the kids into becoming bulemic or anorexic?Check out you tube for biggest child.Her legs are bowed from the weight.Now Mom watches everything she eats(after court ordered weight camp for the child)where is Moms diet mom is heavy. kids eat what they are given esp young kids.Cindy