Ads Featuring Overweight Children Stop “Sugarcoating” Childhood Obesity

By: Sharon Aron Baron

Obesity ads in Georgia are making people a little touchy, especially because they involve in-your-face ads featuring overweight children with messages resembling of “The Truth” anti smoking campaign.

The campaign, called Strong4Life, by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta was created in 2011 and urges Georgia residents to “stop sugarcoating” the childhood obesity crisis. State health officials created the campaign after a survey revealed that 75 percent of parents in Georgia who have an overweight or obese child do not think it’s a problem. Since the state has the second worse childhood obesity rate in the country with nearly 40 percent of all children overweight or obese, officials decided to create the campaign.

Critics have accused Children’s Healthcare of humiliating kids and their parents, the same parents who watched as their children’s weight ballooned.

Linda Matzigkeit, senior vice president at Children’s Healthcare who leads the wellness projects told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that 85 percent of people who have seen the ads view them positively.

“We have to do something about this or our state is in jeopardy. It’s not good for business if your state has the second highest obesity rate. Obese children turn into obese adults.”

Florida has 33 percent obese or overweight children and ranks 35th in the country in childhood obesity. The State receives grants from two organizations: the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s Healthy Kids, Healthy Communities Fund to battle overweight and obesity in children and a Pioneering Healthier Communities grant through the YMCA.

However, is it enough?

Parents in our state could use the education and outreach that Strong4life provides.  If action is encouraged by a billboard or ad, then that is part of the battle.

While it may seem shocking to many, this dose of reality is impossible to ignore in Georgia, and may just be the thing parents need to understand the cold reality: That our next generation of children may not live as long as us.

We are the only ones that can do something about childhood obesity.

About Sharon Aron Baron

Sharon Aron Baron Sharon Aron Baron is the Editor of Talk Media and writer for Coral Springs Talk. CST was created in 2012 to provide News, Views and Entertainment for the residents of Coral Springs, Parkland and the rest of South Florida.

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  • radfatty

    Stigma and discrimination of
    children based on their physical appearance or body size is resulting in
    physiological reactions to this stress. The pressure to reduce their body size
    in not only extremely difficult, if not impossible, it is BAD FOR THEIR HEALTH.

    As outlined in a 2007 report
    from Yale’s Rudd Center:

    “Research so far suggests
    that obesity may increase vulnerability to adverse physiological reactions to
    psychosocial stressors among youths. Experiences of weight stigma may
    specifically exacerbate negative health outcomes through heightened blood
    pressure, cortisol reactivity, and risk for hypertension. Given that similar
    findings pertaining to obesity and vulnerability to stress are emerging in both
    children and adults, it may be that obesity beginning in childhood heightens
    vulnerability to a long-term trajectory of negative physical responses to
    chronic psychosocial stressors. This could in turn increase various cardiovascular
    risk factors. These health problems often affect overweight children. Many of
    the negative psychosocial consequences of weight bias occur above and beyond
    the influence of high body weight, and this appears to be the case for negative
    health consequences as well (Matthews et al., 2005). Therefore, the health
    consequences common among obese children may partly result from the effects of
    discrimination.” (Puhl & Latner; Stigma, Obesity, and the Health of the
    Nation’s Children; 2007)

    Studies show that dieting,
    even that considered “naturalistic”, among young people lead to weight cycling
    [Naturalistic weight reduction efforts predicted weight gain and onset of
    obesity in adolescent girls; http://ebn.bmj.com/content/3/3/88.full%5D

    There is an evidence-based
    compassionate alternative to conventional dieting: Health At Every Size®.
    Please consider this alternative prior to making a decision that may result in
    weight cycling.

    I would also
    like to recommend the free NAAFA Child Advocacy ToolkitSM (CATK) and other written
    guidelines/resources. The NAAFA Child Advocacy Toolkit shows how Health At
    Every Size® takes the focus off weight and directs
    it to healthful eating and enjoyable movement. It addresses the bullying,
    building positive self-image and eliminating stigmatization of large
    children. Additionally, the CATK lists resources available to parents and
    educators or caregivers for educational materials, curriculum and programming
    that is beneficial for all children. It can be found at:

    http://issuu.com/naafa/docs/naafa_childadvocacy2011combined_v04?viewMode=magazine&mode=embed

    For more information on
    Health At Every Size, you can find a general explanation on Wikipedia
    (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_at_Every_Size) or find in-depth
    research-based information in the book Health At Every Size – The Surprising
    Truth About Your Weight by Dr. Linda Bacon
    (http://www.lindabacon.org/HAESbook/).

  • KT

    Obviously nothing is working around the nation because we have so many obese adults as well as children. Something has to be done and it has to be drastic like this. Parents should know exactly how their choices are KILLING THEIR CHILDREN! So quit buying the pop and the sugar and get out there and exercise with your child. There is no excuse having a child like this! It’s up to you!!!!

  • Childhood obesity is a real concern. Not sure how these ads will be effective or not, but I am interested in hearing more feedback from other readers.
    Len Saunders
    http://www.lensaunders.com