HS News Network
Georgia Ad Campaign Bullies Obese Kids
Photo: Children Obese Ads
A new advertising campaign in Georgia is warning children of the social and health problems that can be related to obesity—by scaring and threatening them.
The ads, by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, feature children posing with slogans like: “It’s hard to be a little girl if you’re not.” and “Big bones didn’t make me this way. Big meals did.”
Many have criticized the ads, arguing that threatening and scaring children is not an effective way to deal with childhood obesity. Some have also accused the ads of bullying children.
Defending the group’s reasoning for running the ads, Linda Matzigkeit, senior vice president of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, said they “needed something that was more arresting and in your face than some of the flowery campaigns out there.”
But there’s more to childhood obesity than poor decision making.
In a recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine, researchers found that women who moved from high-poverty areas to low-poverty areas had rates of diabetes and severe obesity one-fifth lower than women who stayed in high-poverty areas.
Several factors could contribute to better health in low-poverty areas, including greater access to healthy foods, a safer environment more conducive to outdoor exercise, and lower levels of psychological stress, says Jens Ludwig, the lead author of the study and a professor of social service administration, law, and public policy at the University of Chicago.
Ludwig points out that there is a growing body of research that links “obesity and other health problems to neighborhood features such as the number of supermarkets and fast-food restaurants.”
In more affluent neighborhoods, Americans have greater access to produce, supermarkets, and high-quality food. In some areas across the country, the only place to buy food is at convenience stores, which often do not have fruits, vegetables, or fresh foods. In urban areas, citizens might need a car to have access to those foods.
And of course, wealthier people are more likely to have access to healthy food because they have greater access to transportation, money, and more time available to acquire, prepare, and consume such food. The poorest states in the country also have the highest rates of obesity, diabetes, and premature death, and unhealthy foods are cheaper than healthy foods.
Around one million children in Georgia are overweight, making the state the second highest in the country in terms of child obesity. Georgia officials have also cut back on school nutrition programs, recess, and physical education classes.
Americans should understand that it’s not just about what obese people do wrong, and it’s not fair to blame obesity solely on the person or his/her parent.
The environment and income inequalities also significant impact obesity rates, and it’s time we paid attention to these other consequences of poverty.