Remember Strong4Life, the Atlanta-based initiative to end childhood obesity one potentially-fat-shaming-but-also-highly-educational ad at a time? They’re back with a new ad that equates weight problems and heart disease in adulthood with unhealthy habits developed as a child, asserting that parents who feed their kids fast food and let them lead sedentary lives are basically killing them. Do you find it educational, or is it just portraying obese people as gluttonous dummies who don’t notice their own health problems, and parents as hapless enablers?
Entitled “Stop the Cycle,” the YouTube video was released 5 days ago, and already has over 40,000 views. Most of the comments reflect Strong4Life’s desired effect, with viewers noting that “we should all be scared by this” and swearing they’ll get their whole family to eat better, that they didn’t realize the hand they played in their child’s obesity. Which is definitely a start–even if just a handful of viewers actually start promoting more physical activity and nutritious, whole foods in their household, it’s done the trick. But can it even do that?
The trouble with this ad is that while it demonizes candy, sugary cereals, fast food and even juice in a baby bottle, it also shows the parents giving the obese teen a treadmill, which he then uses once and never again. So…they did the right thing, but it was too late? Or did they themselves offer mixed messages to the kid–both rewarding him with food, and also condemning him for being overweight? And there’s the trouble: the video simply shows “shocking” imagery, and doesn’t do anything to actually educate people on how to make a change in their lives.
Of course, that’s a tall order for one campaign that is, all things considered, doing the country a solid by taking on a serious issue with the best of intentions. But when the doctors in the video continually assert that “you have to make a change,” studies indicate that most people just don’t know how to do that.
9 in 10 adult Americans believe that their diet is healthy–but when 33% are obese, there’s something that’s missing. And, in the case of this video (and much of the rest of the messaging around obesity), that “something” is the difference between shaming parents and actually showing them how to “make a change.” But maybe that’s a job for a different organization.
What do you think–will this video promote parents and teachers to seek out more educational sources (like Michelle Obama‘s Let’s Move! campaign, which does demonstrate how to make real changes in a body-positive way)? Or is it just placing the blame on parents without offering solutions? Let us know in the comments.