by MrsFatass on January 27, 2012

I know I’m not supposed to like this ad.

I’m not supposed to like it for a many reasons. Google “Georgia Childhood Obesity Ad Campaign” and you’ll be able to click for an hour through articles and posts that will explain that this ad exploits children. Potentially sets overweight kids up for more ridicule or even bullying from peers who see these billboards every day. And lots and lots of talk about how this campaign covers these children in shame.

I agree that shame is no motivator.

But the biggest reason why I don’t like this ad campaign? Is because it just isn’t a very good ad campaign.

This is part of some greater effort called “Stop Sugarcoating it, Georgia” designed to shock parents into realizing that childhood obesity is indeed a problem (there is some statistic they are using about the enormous percentage of parents who just don’t realize this fact). Okay. I can get behind a lack of sugarcoating. I mean, not only am I a frequent user of words like ‘fat’ and ‘diet’, I call myself MrsFatass for frick’s sake. But SHOCK is only half of the equation; there also has to have VALUE to be meaningful. And I don’t see the value in this. This campaign has alienated its target. And in making the point, put children in the crossfire.

Kids are never acceptable collateral damage. And if even one child looks at that billboard and is made to feel ashamed of themselves, even if one child references those images while teasing another, well, I think that’s too much. Don’t you?

And really, this issue doesn’t really belong to the kids, it belongs to the people feeding them. So, ask yourself if this campagin reaches those people. If a person said something to me about the size of my kid while we were standing in a buffet line (to loosely reference one of the messages), learning about better nutritional options wouldn’t be what I’d be wondering about – I’d be trying to decide whether to punch you in the nose or punch you in the junk. I mean, right? Insults are conversation ENDERS not conversation STARTERS.

So where’s the value in hurling an insult at a demographic you say you want to engage?

I find this campaign to be devoid of any compassion, and one thing I know for a fact is that obesity – be it in children or adults – is an emotionally charged issue that demands it. The organization that created these pieces has stated that this is the first phase of a multi-layered rollout. And basically, the compassion comes in later phases. But they already lost me. And I know I’m not the only one.

If this speaks to you at all, then go read this post and click through the links. And should you be moved to act, let your opinion be heard. Take to your Twitter and your Facebook and let the creators know what you think. And join us Friday night for a Twitter chat from 9-10 PM EST using the hashtag #ashamed.

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{ 25 comments… read them below or add one }

Kirsten January 27, 2012 at 6:12 am

Testify. ((Nodding emphatically)) Jughugs, K


Amanda B. January 27, 2012 at 6:38 am

Word. I’m feeling a blog post on this subject coming on…


Sean @ Learn Fitness January 27, 2012 at 7:46 am

I couldn’t agree with you more. This is a slap in the face to the wrong people … instead of it being to the face of the parents and beauracrats in the school food programs it’s directed at the least informed least responsible crowd, the ones we’re supposedly educating to treat each other with respect and compassion, the kids. What a shameful campaign … I’ll spread the word.

Thanks for keeping it real Mrs!!


Queen Wackaddo January 27, 2012 at 8:45 am

I guess the writer’s blog is gone.
This was strong, no hoo ha references. I haven’t read a lot of your more, journalistic work, for lack of a better word, or perhaps this is the right word? How amazing to see you can ooze in feelings, make me laugh like nobody and then write this powerful piece. Multi-talented beyond the Zumba floor, I say!


Kyle January 27, 2012 at 8:58 am

As an alternative approach, picture a tv commercial…filmed from the perspective of a camera looking over the shoulder of the parent driving through a pick-up window at a fast food restaurant hauling in big bags of food for the presumed waiting family. A voice-over representing the parents thoughts say…”I know that this isn’t right for my family, but I’m just too exhausted to cook tonight” Then the narrator breaks finishes…”Whether you know it or not, obesity is a growing problem…and you have a decision to make on how to correct it”

No kids exploited…but the message is clear.


Estella.Elizabeth January 27, 2012 at 9:04 am

I agree about the lack of compassion. Shaming children won’t get them anywhere, especially when they’re young and these issues aren’t really things they fully understand yet


Colline January 27, 2012 at 9:15 am

I believe the aim of the campaign was not to shame the children, but to shame the parents feeding them. They wanted to show the feelings/fears/heartache the children are experiencing because of being overweight. Sometimes I wonder whether the parents realise the physical and mental harm they are doing their children when they rely on fast foods and processed foods for meals and snacks.


Jen@FoodFamilyFitness January 27, 2012 at 9:24 am

I think having that poor little boy posing for this ad is horrible. If you bring up your child eating fast food and all you can eat buffets, then I’m sorry, but the blames lies with the parents, put them on the bilboard. I admit that my kids have had their fair share of fast food, but we decided as parents and as a family that it had to stop. We are all trying to eat healthier and when it comes down to it, I’m the one who shops and cooks therefore it’s up to ME what goes into their stomachs.


chris January 27, 2012 at 12:48 pm

I think this ad makes overweight kids the target of ridicule..not that they weren’t before ….but still.
I think to parents (I’m sorry) pouring arsenic into their kids food and feeding it to them might do the trick with the ad thing. This is bad. I see way too many kids who are overweight. The parents are setting these kids for a life of pain and ill health. Don’t target the kids, wake the parents up..


Rob Dyess January 27, 2012 at 2:50 pm

No doubt. I think the key here is what you said in the last paragraph or so… it is all about compassion.

Unfortunately, most people that have not had a weight problem, can not understand a weight problem, so they think that they are going to just shame us, or shock us, or do something else to “make us aware”. WTF- I am aware, I don’t need you to call me fat for me to be aware.

Again, you are right about hurling insults at groups you are trying to engage.

Good work Sue!!!


Lisa Robbin Young January 27, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Frankly, fat prevention begins in the heart… and it doesn’t look like Georgia has one.


Kimberly January 27, 2012 at 5:46 pm

I am so disappointed that we (as a society) seem to be painting the problem still today as obesity, when it really is a health issue. And NO, the kids should not bear the brunt of any campaign.


joy January 28, 2012 at 12:12 pm

Wow I’m in the minority. We see pictures of kids all the time who don’t have enough to eat. These pictures spur people into action. People send money for food for them. Those kids aren’t feeling shame…They are getting the help they need. Now because it’s a fat kid….it’s shameful? Finally finally finally someone at least is trying to solve the problem. Is this the best ad campaign, the best picture, the best way to do it? I don’t know, but someone is trying!!!

When I was a fat kid growing up…I was ashamed , even without billboards like this, and I did not even know why I was the way I was. I did not make my food choices….my mom did. I did not know why I wanted more food than my body required. Some adult should have taken notice of me and tried to help. But no one came…no one cared enough.

I care for this kid and every fat kid out there. It breaks my heart to see so many obese children!! I see them all the time at fast food places and candy stores just loading up. Almost 100% of the time it’s the parents paying for this stuff. It’s their fault! Not the kids…

So I’m glad someone is putting a spot light on the situation….For me, I was waiting for someone to come to my rescue….Now someone is trying!! I hope the future messages they plan, are shown in an impacting light and I hope they really makes a difference!

If you know me, I never ever ever go against the grain of what others think. So please know my heart, I am truly concerned for this whole situation. I don’t have the answers. I’m just glad something is happening.


Keep focused!


kristi January 28, 2012 at 5:44 pm

This is not cool. I have an autistic son who is heavier and I am working on getting him more healthy. We exercise and talk about bad foods but it is a work in progress. He is very short and has terrible asthma and also gags on most foods. It is hard.


natalie @ http://healthybalancingact.blogspot.com/ January 28, 2012 at 9:16 pm

looking at that add i feel sick, sick that a child would be exploited like that in an ad campaign. This is pointing the blame at the wrong people and shame does not work! This ad will only encourage bullying and more finger pointing. Yes prevention does start in the home, but there has to be another way to get that point across without shaming and humiliating children.


Valerie (seattlerunnergirl) January 30, 2012 at 4:26 pm

There has to be a way of “poking” the parents out of complacency or lack of awareness or WHATEVER without shaming the kids. And this? Isn’t it.


Simon January 31, 2012 at 12:36 pm

I agree that it needs to be addressed and the effort is in the right place. I just feel bad for that kid. Because I was that kid.


Justin February 1, 2012 at 10:55 am

Although I find the add to be harsh on children and their parents, shame does seem to work. We are all here talking about it right? That makes the ads effective. I have no sympathy for parents who feed their children garbage and who themselves don’t take care of the one body they have. Tough Love? sure is. I’ve seen so many other (softer) ads and shows that have not worked. To truly grow and change, you MUST BE BROKEN..Sorry to disagree with the majority of folks on here. God Bless.


Christian February 1, 2012 at 11:01 am

Whether or not people are offended by the ads and their content is immaterial – there is no guarantee in life against being offended – if a person is offended because they feel that they are being unfairly singled out – they need to get over it. It is their own problem, not that of the ad writers or sponsors.

And I disagree – shame is a powerful motivator. Until recently (the last 30 years or so) it helped keep a large part of the hedonistic and self-centered appetites of this nation in check – now that it [shame] has become unpopular (because it makes people into “victims” by making them feel bad about themselves. News flash – it isn’t supposed to make you feel good about yourself: it is supposed to inspire thought about something that people can do something about.


Freelance MD February 1, 2012 at 12:09 pm

I’m afraid that I’ll have to disagree with many of the comments here. This is an issue that goes far beyond a few hurt feelings. Fatness in America is effecting us all.

As an example: Smoking will not really be reduced until smokers are labeled as ‘losers’ rather than trying to appeal to health issues.


Steve February 1, 2012 at 1:00 pm

I guess I’m one of the few other people who shares Joy’s views in the comments here. This problem won’t solve itself, obesity rates across the country are skyrocketing and have been for decades. Parents need to stop shoveling crap into their kids mouths, and maybe this isn’t the best way to get the message across but, like Joy points out, at least an effort is being made by the people behind this campaign.

People seem to keep taking issues with the kids being “shamed”, or “exploited”. I think you’re missing the point. Fat kids RIGHT NOW are both shamed and exploited without this campaign. They are shamed and bullied by their peers who should be their friends, and they are exploited by every “happy meal” that gets sold. They are not shamed and bullied because some kid saw a billboard, they are shamed and bullied because they are fat. If you’re worried about kids being shamed, help them lose weight. Find a proactive measure that’s not as simple and ultimately meaningless as posting your opinion online. Actually do something. If you’re worried about kids being exploited, target the companies making millions off of feeding them crap. If you are directing your anger or contempt towards people who are trying to address the problem, even if you don’t agree with how they are addressing it, then you are part of the problem yourself.

Find the right target, a hospital in Georgia trying to save kids is not the right target. You know what McDonald’s would want out of this whole campaign? They would want people to get upset at it, they would want people to try to get it removed, they would want people to ignore it. So good job, I’m sure McDonald’s is pleased every time someone makes a blog post like this.


Amy February 1, 2012 at 3:11 pm

Obviously all of the approaches of the past have not worked. If you do not like what you see, change it. If you do not like seeing the obese child in the ads, change so that the children are no longer obese.


Kelly February 1, 2012 at 3:42 pm

These ads are just another form of abuse.. another ad against fat people.. unfortunately genetics do play a part in obesity it is not just what you eat… it is what is in your genetic code as well.. it is the environment it is the fact that so many families today are poor… and what is cheap food….. unhealthy food… The way to battle this problem isnt by attacking the children.. its by fixing the economy… if people werent struggling so hard to make ends meet i can guarantee you we’d all be eating a bit healthier..

When you are fat.. You don’t need another ad to make you feel ashamed.. you live ashamed everyday of your life… Because you are fat you are nothing and you are treated like nothing.. yes even children.. the most un socially acceptable way anyone can be is to be fat… you know more than anyone who might tell you how fat and ugly you are and horrible you are.. you know more than all of them because you have to face all the people who judge you on a daily basis.. you have to walk through crowds of people who give you that look. You have to feel uncomfortable in restaurants because people look at you and think… why are you eating…. The way to fix the obesity problem is not by attacking the obese… We dont need to create more people with eating disorders… Going from one extreme to another because we make them ashamed of themselves.. We dont need to create more instances of suicide because all the kids see these ads and judge these overweight children even more than before… This is just another form of abuse and its wrong… Being fat cannot be cured by shame if it could it already would have been fixed, Obese people live a daily life of shame.. Self shame, Self hatred and hatred thrown upon them by the masses… Shame on These Shame Ad’s… Our children of any size deserve to be treated better than this… (how do you think that kid in the ad feels about himself?)

Obese Person… (who does not eat mcdonalds)

stereotypes do not = reality.


JM February 1, 2012 at 4:31 pm

The ads are directed toward the parents, not the kids. In the ads the kids are looking for answers from the very place answers should come. You’re defensive stance only highlights the denial parents of obese kids tend to exhibit. Instead of hearing the cries of pain from the children, you attack those who are only trying to find a solution. Put aside your selfishness and talk to your obese child, apologize for your complicity in the problem and begin a healing process that could save your child’s life.


RG February 9, 2012 at 9:31 am

First let me say, the ad is terrible. It’s like constantly talking to someone who drinks a lot or does drugs and you constantly tell them they have to stop. It’s a vicious cycle. It makes them feel worse, thus causing them to do more of what is wrong. It’s NOT always the parents. If you nag your children it forces them to want to run to unhealthy stuff. Many parents to choose to bring fruits & veggies in to their home (Although not as healthy as they used to be, because scientist have played around with the DNA and filled with unhealthy chemicles)

First they need to get RID of TV commercials with food, start encouraging with healthy foods & exercise. Stop all the FAKE made up people on TV ads. Make them real. Do they have cigarette ads anymore? They can change that if they weren’t focused on the mighty dollar and truly focused on people. They like to play on our emotions.

They need to STOP allowing the big companies taking over the small farmers and STOP adding antibiotics & steroids to the foods ( Meats, Dairy, Eggs etc) I believe that there is only 5 or 6 companies that have control over 90% of the farmers now. Many people don’t realize that. Especially over the past 15 years. You can’t tell me that that hasn’t affected the way food is metabolized in our children and people in general. Why the increase in high BP & diabetes? Because they have taken things away from the natural state. Most people can’t afford organic, and can we truly trust organic?

Stop with all the crap that is not healthy in boxed items. Stop playing with the DNA of fruits and Veggies. They have been doing it for so long, no wonder this generation is affected. HUmm, I wonder why Michelle O has her own private garden, because she knows that all the other fruits and veggies have been messed with and she doesn’t want her family to be affected by the crap.

Get the vending machines out of the schools. Stop allowing the grocery stores/stores from allowing unhealthy foods by the cash registers along with unhealthy drinks. Wouldn’t it be amazing if they had healthy items close to the registers & water only? Get rid of all the crappy magazines by the cash registers and put WHOLESOME healthy ones they don’t need a half naked woman on the cover to get the point across, gear it towards kids. NO, they have the trash looking ones where the kids think they have to look & be a certain way (That effects the children too) It is that vicious cycle, to where they believe they have to be a certain way, then the addiction hormones kick in and they run to eating for comfort. Just like anyone that is addicted to anything. I wonder what would happen if they changed all that?


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