Children’s takes on Georgia’s young fatties and their families

Responding to the state of Georgia’s childhood obesity epidemic, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta has launched its Stop Childhood Obesity campaign. It notes Georgia has the second highest rate of childhood obesity in the country and nearly 40 percent of children in the state are either overweight or obese, “indicating that nearly 1 million children are facing negative health consequences related to obesity.”

The not-for-profit health system last month launched a series of anti-obesity commercials, which are designed to alert parents about the physical, social and emotional dangers of stuffing the faces of your children.

The videos have messages in them such as, “Being fat takes the fun out of being a kid” and “Some diseases just aren’t for adults anymore.” The videos also come with surprising and chilling statements such as “75% of Georgia parents with overweight kids don’t recognize the problem” and to “Stop sugarcoating it, Georgia.”

It seems Children’s has no reservations about using fat children and, in the case of one of the videos, their fat parents as props for their message.

I’m not going to deny there is a problem in Georgia and across the country as a whole. Yes, there are more children that are overweight or obese and that problem is leading some of these children to develop diseases traditionally seen only in adults. Yes, I understand being an obese or overweight child can lead to said child to being more susceptible to bullying and ostracization by society.

What I am uncomfortable with is the shaming and the blame that Children’s seems all too willing to do in its campaign. What this commercials convey is Children’s could care less about the dynamics in a home that could attribute to a child or a family having a less than ideal diet. In the end, this campaign’s message is for fat parents to get their fat families into shape, which will help them get the targets off their backs.

This country is on a blame the fatties kick. The popularity of reality TV shows designed to make a spectacle out of overweight and obese participants struggling to exercise, overweight/obese folks who have poor eating habits and articles shaming fat people to losing weight in order to have healthy lives and relationships is a reflection of how we believe we have the authority to police and blame fat people for their ills. All this despite the growing number of experts who believe people can indeed be fit, fat and healthy.

The Peach State in 2010 had the third highest poverty rate in the nation. The state had 300,000 people fall into poverty between 2008 and 2009. There’s no question that income level and obesity are hand in hand, with a lower income making it less likely for families to afford to eat  healthy meals. Not to mention that nearly 15 percent of  U.S. households were food insecure at some point in 2010. Not to mention the fact that many children live in so-called food deserts. Not to mention a good bit of Georgia’s infrastructure lacks pedestrian-friendly access. None of this matters to Children’s since its subconscious subjugation of overweight and obese people has to come to the surface and set the mood for its campaign.

Instead of utilizing the copious amount of research and resources Children’s has at its fingertips to give Georgia residents the facts on childhood obesity, the health care system took the easy route and opted for shock value in its campaign. Overweight and obese children already have the shame and discomfort of trying to navigate a society that shuns them, so further exploiting them because of their size negates any positives that could come out of Children’s campaign.

What do you think of Children’s campaign?