Georgia’s Controversial Childhood Obesity Ads – Necessary or Overboard?


Strong4Life is a non-profit organization created in Atlanta to address the childhood obesity epidemic that has shown no sign of slowing in the state of Georgia. About 40% of Georgia’s children are overweight, yet the majority of Georgians don’t consider childhood obesity a problem. Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta designed an ad campaign to gain people’s attention and create a sense of urgency for this neglected medical crisis. The campaign was specifically intended to get parents and caregivers out of denial as 75% of parents of obese children don’t think they have a problem on their hands.

The anti-obesity ad campaign features overweight children with messages such as “Being fat takes the fun out of being a kid,” and “It’s hard to be a little girl if you’re not.” The children in the ads were made aware of the ad’s intent and of the potential backlash that could result. Maya Watson, one of the 13 year old subjects, wanted to send a good message to others out there like her, showing them they are not alone. Feedback from her peers has been positive and since the launch she has gotten help from the hospital where she has learned what small healthy changes she can make to her daily routine in order to live a healthier lifestyle.

 However, not everyone believes these ads are beneficial. They have indeed gotten people talking but many do not agree with the angle that was taken. Many believe these ads are too negative and don’t help the problem as no solution is proposed. Mommy bloggers in particular are coming out to petition and put an end to the advertisements. They believe these ads cause shame, which will put a child down, not motivate them to make positive changes.

What do you think?

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4 comments so far

  1. Brian Harward on

    Unfortunately, I don’t see this helping things much. Generally it is more beneficial to have a positive body image rather than making people feel worse about their body.

  2. Jeff on

    As long as the kids are aware how their image is being used I have no problems with the ad.

    The comments are true, aren’t they?

    Truth in advertising should be encouraged. If McDonalds and other unhealthy food products had more truth in their advertising then maybe ads like this wouldn’t be needed.

  3. mary-jo on

    The truth sometimes hurts, but it’s better to hurt a little now, understand the reality of the painful truth, and become AWARE of the harm and dismal future if help isn’t had — for individuals, but also for the communities, and for the health care system and the future of health care. It would be more wrong not to be this direct, forthright, and honest about the situation. What DOES need to happen, though, as a result of the ads, is that when people bring their children for evaluation and treatment, access is granted and care is given, regardless of SES, insurance coverage, etc.

  4. j9 on

    Maybe it’s time to look deeper into the issue. Why are kids fat? It’s not because they are overeating fruit & vegetables. It’s the processed foods – softdrink, hamburgers, easy meals, etc. And why do parents feed their kids that stuff? It’s cheap, it’s quick & easy to prepare & to ease their guilt. If both parents work (as many need to) the convenience & guilt relief are huge factors. Fast food is mass produced and less labour intensive so it’s cheap. Maybe the government needs to look at how to go back to the days when one parent stayed home & had time & money to cook healthy meals and spend time with their kids (moving, not getting the TV to babysit them).


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