A young girl’s concerned scowl fills the screen.
“My doctor says I have something called hypertension,” the overweight child squeaks. “I’m really scared.”
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Georgia’s controversial anti-childhood obesity ad campaign literally puts its message in black and white: “Stop sugarcoating it, Georgia. Stop childhood obesity.”
With an estimated one million obese children, the state of Georgia ranks second in the nation for childhood obesity.
While spokespeople at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta — who designed this $50 million, five-year print and television advertising campaign — told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that this “very arresting, abrupt campaign” is just what the doctor ordered, critics accuse the Strong4Life campaign of creating a stigmatizing environment for overweight kids.
The ads range from Bobby asking, “mum, why am I fat?” to Tina sadly staring at the camera as she explains why she doesn’t like to go to school. “Other kid’s pick on me,” she says. “It hurts my feelings.”
The commercials are punctuated by a stark and startling message: “Being fat takes the fun out of being a kid.”
Critics include angry Facebook commenters, complaining that the ads create a “climate of hate”, as well as medical professionals.
“Blaming the victim rarely helps,” Dr. Miriam Labbok, director of the Carolina Global Breastfeeding Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, told ABC News. “These children know they are fat and that they are ostracized already.”
But senior vice president of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta Linda Matzigkeit told The AJC that they are sticking with their platform.
Citing a Children’s Healthcare survey that concluded 75 per cent of parents with overweight children in Georgia don’t consider their kids to be obese, Matziegkeit warned, “If we don’t wake up, this will be disastrous for our state.”
This print ad, produced by Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, discusses how poor eating habits lead to childhood obesity.
Fat prevention begins at home. And the buffet line.
This 30 second television is stark and to the point.
Bobby sits in a folding chair across from his overweight mother and asks, 'mum, why am I fat?'
The mother sighs and the text '75% of Georgia parents with overweight kids don't recognise the problem' fills the screen.
This print advertisement, produced by Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, highlights the health risks posed by childhood obesity.
My fat may be funny to you but it's killing me.
Tamika's television spot is narrated by her mother.
'As her mum, I never noticed Tamika eating any differently from the rest of us. She likes junk food, but what kid doesn't.
When the doctor said she has type two diabetes, I never thought what we eat made her sick.
I just always thought she was thick like her mama.'
This print ad, produced by Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, emphasises the impact that childhood obesity has on one's emotional well-being.
It's hard to be a little girl if you're not.
The ad opens with Tina saying,
'I don't like going to school 'cause all the other kids pick on me.
It hurts my feelings.'
The words 'Being fat takes the fun out of being a kid' fill the screen.
'My doctor says I have something called hypertension,' Martiza says.
'I'm really scared.'
Then comes the message, 'Some diseases aren't just for adults anymore. Stop sugarcoating it, Georgia.'
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