Childhood obesity is a growing problem Americans, especially parents, can no longer ignore. The increase in diseases that were never seen in children prior to recent years, like fatty liver disease and type 2 diabetes, is telling as ti where the American obesity epidemic is going.
However, there are some innovative programs designed to tackle childhood obesity head on. One such program, Strong for Life, initiated by Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, has taken some heat for their controversial way of publicizing the program.
Their ad campaign, a $50 million dollar, multi-phase project, including TV commercials, billboards, and print ads, features obese children and their parents with straight forward messages like "Mom, why am I fat?"
Another one pictures an overweight adolescent girl and reads, "It's hard to be a little girl when you're not."
The ad campaign has drawn national attention, some complimentary as well as critical, with critics arguing the ads were shaming the children and inducing guilt onto the parents.
Some doctors felt like the ads were attention-getting but did not offer clear solutions. Advocates say the people featured are real people with real, relatable problems and this is a first step toward helping families understand that obesity is a preventable disease.
The campaign is geared towards parents and caregivers of children.
Children's Healthcare of Atlanta experts responded to their critics that the softer, gentler message points in past campaigns were not getting through to the parents they were trying to reach.
They did not want to “sugarcoat” the issue any longer because they were seeing more and more children coming into their hospitals with obesity-related conditions.
They chose this “in-your-face” approach after surveying two local towns and found that the majority of parents did not see childhood obesity as a problem.
A remarkable 75 percent of Georgian parents with overweight or obese children did not even recognize it in their own children.