Child health expert says GA's stark anti-obesity ads stigmatize

Stop Childhood Obesity: Why Am I Fat?

by Renée Canada

Stark anti-obesity ads in Georgia have generated fiery debate across the nation since they began appearing on billboards this past August in the Atlanta area. Now Alan Guttmacher, a leading child health expert at the National Institutes of Health has come out against the ads, saying they carry a “great risk of increasing stigma” for overweight children.

The campaign, which has now spread to TV spots as well, uses images of overweight children, along with messages like “Being fat takes the fun out of being a kid,” and “It’s hard to be a little girl if you’re not.”

Georgia ranks second in the nation in childhood obesity, next to Mississippi. Connecticut, by comparison, ranks 40th. In Georgia, nearly 40 percent of children are overweight or obese.

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that 12.5 million, or 17 percent, of American children ages 2 to 19 are obese. These rates have almost tripled since 1980. With one in three children at risk for preventable diseases like diabetes and heart disease due to being overweight or obese, the Strong4Life ad campaign, spearheaded by Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, was intended to highlight the role parents and caregivers have in the growing health epidemic.

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