Obese children not only face teasing from peers, but their problems may be metabolic, not only due to overeating the wrong foods for their individual body types or genetic inheritance. Videos that create stigma don’t emphasize eating ancestral foods, but instead put kids down to pull up an ideal of youth weight-loss parachutes that lift kids by their bootstraps.
How incendiary are the billboard ads and viral videos scaring obese kids into dietary changes? After all, kids begin eating what their parents feed them. It’s about forming better eating habits and food choices, early in life.
The newest child obesity campaign images drawing protests from moms and great grandmas. See the sites, “Georgia’s Bold ‘Stop Child Obesity’ Campaign Draws Critics (VIDEOS ),” and “KFC Ad Campaign Draws Fire From CSPI ~ Newsroom ~ News from CSPI.”
The basic premise, according to the Associated Press article by David Crary, “Childhood weight-loss campaign draws fire,” published today, May 2, 2011, contends that images of overweight children on videos you can see online as well as billboards, are just too blunt. They could imprint young minds with the stigma of being overweight.
Scare tactics may not work with children used to fast food
This type of scare tactics may not work with some children because it’s too frightening. Some of the slogans include, “Chubby kids may not outlive their parents,” and “Big bones didn’t make me this way. Big meals did.”
Chubby children may eat too much. But some who don’t eat too much food may be eating the wrong foods for their metabolic inheritance. Or they may have an early thyroid issue. The signs, videos, and slogans are supposed to motivate children to eat healthier and use some calorie restriction combined with better nutrition habits.
The “Stop Child Obesity campaign
Parents across the nation are outraged that the national “Stop Child Obesity” campaign has overstepped personal boundaries of what’s ethical, moral, and respectful. Are these videos and billboards creating low self esteem, which may drive kids to eat more comfort foods, such as ice cream or mac and cheese? Some news reports may say childhood obesity is declining at the same time as other news reports say childhood type 2 diabetes is increasing.
How harmful are these billboards depicting obese children? The goal of the campaign is to instill good eating habits early-on, not flatten a child’s self-esteem so the child internalizes the insults. Are the signs a form of psychosomatic bullying? How harmful are these billboards and videos? We see the fat camps on TV that are trying to help kids lose weight. But is the tough love approach too rough?
Goals focus on substitutions
The goal is to substitute healthier food for familiar, traditional ingredients that put too much weight on children. These ads were created by the Georgia Children’s Health Alliance, according to the Associated Press article, “Childhood weight-loss campaign draws fire.” If you want to read more research on this topic, check out the studies on pervasive weight discrimination at Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity.
According to that website, not enough has been done to stop the bias and discrimination obese kids and grown-ups face daily. News reports focus on the obesity epidemic, the children with type 2 diabetes, the biased attitudes, and the stereotypes of the overweight child.
Obese adults face discrimination that often started in childhood, especially in a school environment and in public as well as within the healthcare system. There’s a national stigma against overweight children, but not enough is being done to help them in ways their parents can afford. And discrimination, even bullying is focused by children on other children who are overweight or otherwise different in appearance.
The stigma creates life-long problems as children fight their genes to lose weight and keep it off. With fast-food eateries on nearly every corner in some neighborhoods, families fight an uphill battle. Added to that weight are school lunches budget cuts and children who rely on processed foods. Do obese children have overweight parents or siblings? Check out, Fast Food Facts — Home.
What can people do to help these kids without making them feel there’s something so wrong with them that they are discriminated against by peers and employers? How many kids and teenagers have suffered discrimination “shopping while obese?”
The Rudd Center at Yale aims to stop the stigma through research, education, and advocacy. What the Rudd Center is emphasizing is to draw attention to weight bias and develop strategies to address the issue with various groups, including young people, families, teachers, employers, and health care professionals. Parents and teachers, check out the resources at the center’s website. See the videos exposing weight bias.
The White House expands its efforts to curb childhood obesity
Have you eyed the website, Stop Childhood Obesity.com? The White House is expanding efforts to curb obesity in children through dietary changes in home and at school. The controversial issue is that the efforts are causing widespread discrimination toward overweight children.
Check out the study, “Obesity Stigma: Important Considerations for Public Health.” Do you know a child who has suffered bias due to the national weight-loss campaign? See, The Stigma of Obesity: A Review and Update. What do you think about slogans such as (Fat children become fat adults)? Think it’s an effective motivator for kids? See the site, Compulsive Eating and Substance Dependence Share Similar Brain Patterns.
Does obesity incite incendiary bullying from peers?
Or does it more often incite incendiary bullying from peers, teachers, employers, and health care professionals? What campaign slogans would you direct to children, parents, teachers, and doctors to better inspire and motivate kids to pay more attention to what they eat, activities, and weight issues?
Wouldn’t cooking classes for kids and parents motivate them when they can taste what healthy food really is like, not what they’ve been told–that healthy food ingredients have to taste flat or bitter? Do you feel kids can be healthy at almost every size? Checkout the video, “Obesity in Children is a YouTube video on nutrition, making better food choices.”
Boundaries of healthy weight: Are children told what’s healthiest?
Do children receive food tailored to their metabolic needs and specific genetic requirements, expressions, and signatures? Why aren’t kids, teachers, and parents told what the parameters or boundaries of healthy weight are for their metabolic and genetic inheritance and environment? And are they told about how many calories they need for ideal energy and health for their body shape, age, and size?
Check out the book, by Linda Bacon, PhD, Health At Every Size. You’ll find some surprising facts about your weight. Should children be required in school to read books on health and weight appropriate to their age group?
Parents are concerned that the more these videos and billboards are distributed online and in public spaces, the more discrimination will increase targeting children who are overweight or obese. Who motivates via stigma? Why do kids need to be scared straight when it comes to food choices?
- Rudd Center Image Gallery
- Guidelines for the Portrayal of Overweight and Obese Persons in the Media
- Videos Exposing Weight Bias
Blog on Medscape
- Sizeable Issues
- Obesity Stigma: Important Considerations for Public Health
- The Stigma of Obesity: A Review and Update
Continuing Medical Education
- Weight Bias in Clinical Settings: Improving Health Care Delivery for Obese Patients
- Preventing Weight Bias: Helping Without Harming in Clinical Practice
Rudd Policy Report
- Weight Bias: The Need for Public Policy
2011 Canadian Weight Bias Summit Webcast
- Rebecca Puhl’s presentation
- Other presentations