Weighing In On Georgia’s New Childhood Anti-Obesity Campaign

littlegirlobesitycampaign-225x300.jpg

Georgia’s controversial ad campaign against childhood obesity raises the question: what kind of advertising is actually helpful in encouraging not only healthy self-esteem, but healthy kids, both physically and mentally? Do we really think that in a society that covets thinness, promotes thinness, and defines beauty in very specific (thin) terms, that overweight kids don’t already realize they are overweight? Children as young as four have been diagnosed with disordered eating because they think they’re not thin enough.  Kids have already received the (wrong) message. And now, in addition to only seeing bodies that look nothing like their own in TV and movies, overweight kids must also see those that look like them shamed on billboards and in commercials. How does this help? Does it make healthier food options available to low-income families, who often find the cheapest and most widely available food is that which is least healthy? Does it create and encourage the use of safe outdoor spaces for kids to play? Does it acknowledge the reality that health is possible at many different sizes? Or does it simply add another voice to the cacophony of fat-shaming that already exists, without actually proposing any solutions to the problem of childhood obesity?

 It makes no sense to sustain a culture that makes people of all body types feel inadequate while doing nothing to change the structures that promote unhealthy choices for kids. For this reason, Georgia’s ads are not only misguided but counter productive to the goal of making sure all children are happy, healthy, and feel good about their bodies.

What do you think is the right way to address the issue of childhood obesity?

Vanessa Wright