Fight Against Obesity: Has Georgia Taken it Too Far?
Welcome back to FitChatter! In today's news - is Georgia's new anti-obesity ad campaign a much-needed wakeup call, or just another case of fat-shaming?
It seems I can't go anywhere on the Internet these days without tripping over some controversial story in the world of diet and exercise. But setting controversy aside for a moment, we can all find some common ground and agree on one thing: obesity is a problem in the United States. A big problem. This graph from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is pretty sobering. Clearly, something needs to be done.
The state of Georgia thinks the way to get that "something" done is to stir up controversy.
Well, mission accomplished.
A weighty message
Children's Healthcare of Atlanta has put forth a new anti-obesity ad campaign, modeled after anti-smoking and anti-meth ads, that states the problem in stark terms: "Stop sugarcoating it, Georgia." And there's no sugarcoating to be found in the ads. In fact, they're downright uncomfortable at times. Shot in black and white, they feature overweight kids saying things like:
"My doctor says I have something called hypertension. I'm really scared."
"Mom, why am I fat?"
"I don't want to be around the other kids, because all they want to do is pick on me."
The ads then fade out to the sound of the kids' breathing. (Yes, really. Check them out for yourself.)
"We needed something that was more arresting and in your face than some of the flowery campaigns out there," said Linda Matzigkeit, senior vice president of the company. "It has to be harsh. If it's not, nobody's going to listen."
The Obesity Action Coalition disagrees, condemning the ads as "greatly promot[ing] the negative stigma, weight bias and bullying often associated with obesity." (Forgive the extreme example, but isn't that a bit like saying that Schindler's List promotes genocide?)
Okay. I understand that no one really likes to be uncomfortable. And I understand that sometimes there are factors contributing to obesity that are very difficult (or even impossible) to control. But let's face it: obesity is reaching epidemic status, and causing millions of kids to develop "adult" diseases like hypertension at a very young age. With the majority of obesity cases preventable and reversible, surely it's clear that our current tactics aren't working. Isn't it time to move away from, as the CHA puts it, sugar-coating the message? It would be criminal to put at risk the health of thousands of kids in the name of being politically correct.
Is Georgia's ad campaign going to be the wakeup call people need? Maybe, maybe not. Though I think that being uncomfortable is not necessarily a bad thing, I do sympathize with those that think the campaign is a step too far. But I have to think that it is, at least, a step in the right direction.