1. Parenting
Katherine Lee

Are Georgia's Child Obesity Ads a Solution — or a Problem?

By January 4, 2012

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Have you heard about the new controversial ads running in Georgia that are targeting childhood obesity? The print and TV ads depict overweight children talking about being bullied because of their weight and graphics that read, "Being fat takes the fun out of being a kid."

According to ABC News, some public health experts say these ads could end up stigmatizing the kids instead of the problem and offer no solutions while others say that such hard-hitting messages are necessary to bring focus on the obesity epidemic, which is particularly widespread in Georgia. (The state ranks second in the nation for childhood obesity with an estimated 1 million kids identified as overweight, according to ABC.)

I'm not sure where to fall in this argument. On the one hand, these ads may do more harm than good by showing images of overweight kids with these messages. But I can see what the supporters of the ads are saying -- that not enough is being done to address childhood obesity.

Perhaps the answer lies in spending money on programs targeting the root causes of childhood obesity rather than on ads that talk about it. The problem is such a complex one, and requires parents working with nutritionists and child fitness experts to make sure children eat right and get exercise (a scenario that can often be unrealistic for many families who, for various socioeconomic challenges, simply cannot or will not make obesity a priority). But with the right solutions, this complex problem can be addressed. Whether or not these ads alone can serve as that solution seems, to me, extremely unlikely.

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Comments
January 9, 2012 at 10:20 pm
(1) cindy says:

While many lifestyle choices affect obesity in adults and children, people should realize that some overweight children and teens, like my daughter, are aware of the problem and getting help from parents and professionals. But just as it takes years to get to the point of obesity, it can take years for children to lose the weight and achieve a healthy weight. So keep in mind that some heavy children you see may be doing all the “right” things, but are on the road to a healthier body but do not look like it yet.
Finally what everyone needs is encouragement and positive incentives to choose healthful foods and activities not depressing and disheartening negativity. (Why should I bother if I am hopeless, right?)

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