Imagine you're an overweight child. You are probably made to feel bad by peers and others quite regularly. Now, imagine your picture appears in an ad campaign against child obesity, with captions like "It's hard to be a little girl when you're not", "My fat may be funny to you, but it's killing me", and "Being fat takes the fun out of being a kid."
Some of the participants of this ad campaign, which you can learn more about by visiting their official website at strong4life dot com, stated that the campaign made them feel more confident. I don't understand how, and I feel genuinely sorry for the kids who are being used as poster children against childhood obesity. Child health expert Alan Guttmacher from the National Institutes of Health warned that the ad campaign "carries a great risk of increasing stigma".
The campaign was started by a hospital that wanted to raise awareness about the risks of being obese. Dr Mark Wulkan, surgeon-in-chief at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, explained: "Georgia is second in the nation on childhood obesity, and that's a top 10 list we want to get out of as fast as we can. We saw the problem as something that we should take some responsibility for, and something that we had to fix." Wulkan goes on to list high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, liver disease, and kidney disease as the long-term effects of obesity.
It is commendable that Children's Healthcare wants to reach out to help the population they care for be healthy, but was this really the way to go about it? These kids have been appearing on huge billboards in Atlanta since August. A counter campaign, I Stand, is underway, with people declaring they stand for healthy kids of all sizes, and against harming fat children.