Startling Billboards for a Startling Problem

The first time you see them, it’s remarkably startling.  Billboard’s depicting obese children with taglines such as, “Big bones didn’t make me this way. Big meals did.”  The ads are part of Georgia’s “Stop Obesity” campaign.  They’ve at least accomplished one of their goals, get people talking.

Click here to watch the equally startling television ads.

Approximately 25% of children in the United States ages 2-19 are overweight or obese.  In Georgia, the number is closer to 30%.  Second highest in the country.  It’s clear childhood obesity is a big problem.  And it’s getting worse.

What to do?  Several initiatives are designed to increase kids’ physical activity or provide better nutrition at schools.  Certainly that helps.  Ultimately, however, it comes down to parents understanding the seriousness of the problem.  And the real threat it is to their children’s health.

In comes the Georgia ads. Do they go too far?  Or are they the type of stark reminder necessary to illicit change?  Do they hurt kids’ self esteem and make the matter worse?

My take:  I certainly think the ads are effective in getting the message out.  But what is that message?  That childhood obesity is a problem we have to address or overweight kids are the problem?  If the answer is the latter, the billboards may do more harm than good.

I’m not sure exactly where that line is drawn.  But I do know, these ads are right at that line.

Tell me what you think.  Are the ads a good idea or do they just further stigmatize obesity?

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2 responses to “Startling Billboards for a Startling Problem

  1. Dan, it all starts with the parents. I believe a good number of the parents are most likely overweight.

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