PSA Campaign Says Basically, “Lose Weight Kids, Or Suffer With Bullies”

by Daily Curve on January 3, 2012

in Daily Curve

Pardon us while we take a moment to pick our jaws up off of the floor. A recently-launched PSA video campaign in Georgia has us fuming.

The commercials, made by an organization called Strong4Life, show overweight kids describing how other kids pick on them or how their health has been impacted because they are overweight. There are five ads featuring five different children, which end with taglines like “being fat takes the fun out of being a kid,” or “some diseases aren’t just for adults anymore.”

The ads are part of a $50 million campaign in Georgia  where nearly one million kids are obese and 75 percent of parents of an obese child don’t recognize it as a problem, Strong4Life says. It’s the second worse obesity rate in the country behind Mississippi. -Ryan Jaslow, CBS News

It’s true that healthy kids are more active and less prone to sickness. It’s true that kids are bullied for being overweight. It’s also true that overweight parents are more likely to have overweight children.

But to shame children because they are overweight as a campaign to fight obesity has us outraged.

To use the antiquated adage that “if you don’t change, you’ll be picked on by bullies” is appalling.

We can think of 1000 other creative ways to promote healthy lifestyles for children and their parents. Where are the tips on how to actually help the children? Why not promote healthy living rather than bullying? Can’t the dollars used to make and promote these videos be put to better use with health education rather than begetting negativity?

Using shame to change behavior is the quickest way to short-term results. This campaign is no different than 17th Century public stockades: putting overweight children on display for mocking.

As with any punishment, shame can have the short-term effect of discouraging certain behaviors. It will, however, have only a weak long-term impact on reducing unwanted behavior and a negative long-term effect in terms of bringing about behavior change. from Transformative Classroom Management. By John Shindler. ©2009

Or maybe this is exactly what Strong4Life is meaning to accomplish? We’re talking about them, you’re reading about them, and all press is good press.

We wholeheartedly disagree.

For more videos and details on the PSA campaign, visit CBS News.

screencap via strong4life

~Angie Lynch

Kassia January 3, 2012 at 10:30 am

This is not ok. I was bullied for being overweight all through middle school and it didn’t make me get healthy. It made me lie about my age so I could take scary diet drugs and binge eat. There are much better ways of encouraging getting healthy.

Hollie January 3, 2012 at 10:59 am

A lot of the problem has to do with the socioeconomic status of these children. The lower the socioeconomic status, the less access to healthy food they have. Whether it is a lack of time for cooking, or a lack of money, there is a problem. Carb based, processed foods are cheaper and fill you up faster. Also, binge eating causes more weight gain. If you don’t eat regularly, your body stores the calories that you do eat. There are so many factors to this. Also, while most places have anti-bullying campaigns, the idea of threatening a child with bullying is abhorrent.

Kenny January 4, 2012 at 12:08 pm

I was going to say the same thing. The number one cause of obesity is poverty, and all the shameful commercials in the world is not going to fix that. Ever try to eat a diet based solely on wholesome, healthy organic foods? Unless you live on a farm you better have a pretty good food budget. Perishables are expensive. Now we haven’t even touched on genetics, or any other factors. I am not making excuses, but the truth still stands the poorer you are the more likely you are to be overweight.

Jen January 3, 2012 at 11:28 am

I disagree with the method of this campaign, but do thing that more attention needs to be brought to the issue of childhood obesity. I think it is worse that type 2 diabetes is no longer called “adult onset” diabetes because kids as young as 8 or 10 are developing it. I think it’s more condemnable that parents, teachers, and doctors turn a blind eye to a kid’s weight because it’s unacceptable to address the issue. I think it is awful that school’s budgets no longer allow for healthy meal options or gym teachers. So while we shouldn’t shame kids and families into loosing weight, we should not, by any means, simply accept childhood obesity and all the problems it will cause for these kids in the future.

Rachel January 3, 2012 at 11:32 am

$50M? I have a lot of ideas as to where that money could of gone and been more constructive. For instance, in less disgusting inedible school lunches. Or, in classes for parenting. Or in health food vouchers.

Kristen January 3, 2012 at 12:23 pm

I can’t imagine letting my child be in a commercial like this, no matter what the “cause” is. You’re right, there are a THOUSAND better ways to battle childhood obesity. This is so shameful. That poor, sweet little girl brought tears to my eyes.

I hope her mother feels really awesome about herself for this right now.

jacqueline January 3, 2012 at 3:36 pm

Any anti-obesity ad that claims bullying is justified by being fat is slaughtering any and all positive information it may be attempting to inspire attention towards.

You’re essentially feeding a toxic mentality :o f: abusive minds, stereotyping and concreting some of the patterns on an emotional level that play into young people gaining wight in the first place

This is a reveal of whatever organization you represent being ignorant and being about as far from beneficial as you can get.

You message should be helping kids to think more positively about activity and its benefits, not attempting to give fodder to bullies or to stockpile shame and paralysis by fear.

You should be ashamed of your ad and develop enough wisdom to pull it. That is, if you have the intelligence to even remotely evaluate your own motives and strategies. At this point, I have little faith that you do, as it got this far in the first place with none of you thinking the wiser first.

jacqueline January 3, 2012 at 3:40 pm

I am not sure where the add originated. I am hoping this forum may be able to forward response to the correct source.

Hollie January 5, 2012 at 9:56 am


JENNY TALIA January 3, 2012 at 3:57 pm

A typical, out of touch with ‘real people’ ad, created by some suit-wearing fucktard at some trendy, overpriced ad agency, where they obviously don’t a fucking clue.
So wrong.

James Roach January 4, 2012 at 12:33 am

Sadly I have to agree with this tactic. I was overweight as a teenager, and I was picked on for it. However, using many different tactics, as not just one will ever work. Shame does sometimes do the trick.
Now this PSA isn’t the problem. Childhood obesity is a problem, and what we are all forgetting is that the government is feeding our kids crap everyday they show up for sub-par learning. Ketchup is a vegetable, and according to Congress, Pizza and french fries are healthy food choices. Unhealthy living may exist outside of school, but it should not exist inside it. It’s not just the kids we should be shaming, but the government, and every politician in D.C who allow this kind of unhealthy living to continue. We may once had the “Greatest Generation” in American, but we are not raising the ‘Dumbest’ generation because are they supposed to get healthy, if we, as a country, cannot even teach our children what health really means?

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