Georgia Anti-Obesity Campaign Draws National Attention, Criticism

Ads targeted at increasing awareness of childhood obesity have raised concerns.

A health campaign by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) has garnered national attention but is also drawing criticism as well.

The CHOA campaign, Strong4Life, is designed to bring attention to the serious health risks associated with childhood obesity. According to the CHOA website, Georgia has the second highest rate of childhood obesity in the nation with 40 percent of Georgia’s children categorized as overweight or obese.

As part of the campaign, CHOA has placed its “Stop Childhood Obesity” message on billboards, ads and commercials across the Atlanta area. The ads, which depict overweight children, have made some experts uncomfortable, Time Magazine reports.

“As a society, we are not comfortable talking about fat,” said David Katz, editor-in-chief of the journal Childhood Obesity, in the Time Magazine interview. “People look at the ad where the child is saying, Why am I fat, and they start projecting. The ads are being complicated by biases people carry with them.”

An ABC News report questioned whether the ads could end up stigmatizing the very children the campaign is meant to help.

"Blaming the victim rarely helps," said Dr. Miriam Labbok, director of the Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill to ABC News. "These children know they are fat and that they are ostracized already."

However, , a Christian life coach and wellness educator, supports CHOA’s efforts to target the problem.

“I recently heard that my grandchildren's generation may be the first to not outlive their parents,” Durham wrote in an emailed response to questions. “That is a sad and frightening fact. Children are now having their cholesterol checked and are being diagnosed with hypertension.”

Durham described the campaign as “bold and blunt,” but said it served a purpose.

“Maybe this will make doctors more aware of the need to educate,” he explained. 

Have you seen the CHOA ads (see video)? Do you think the campaign is doing more harm than good? Tell us in the comments.

Starson January 05, 2012 at 03:12 AM
Looks like parents everywhere--not just in Georgia--think their kids' diets are better than they are: http://nutritionfacts.org/videos/mothers-overestimate-dietary-quality/ (great site, excellent videos)
Tammy Osier January 05, 2012 at 03:24 AM
Other countries don't have McDonald's on every corner, and readily available prepackaged foods in the abundance that we do. Out kids are overweight and they don't go outside to play like we did when we were kids. I do feel bad for the kids because they are defenseless as far as what food comes into the house. That is a parents responsibility. Maybe if kids are offended, they'll put pressure on parents to feed them correctly. Kids do what they are taught. Parents need the education as much as the kids, but need to follow through!
Tammy Osier January 05, 2012 at 03:27 AM
Another thought...as long as these ads show a proactive solution, I have no problem with them. If a kid knows that there is a solution, then they will be encouraged, rather than depressed about it.


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