Despite high literacy rates, advanced health care and other resources at the disposal of the common American, there’s a growing problem amongst this population: obesity. The number of people who are overweight in every age bracket including ages two to five, is increasing. Are Americans allowing more people to become unhealthy in the attempt to avoid hurt feelings?
According to a 2007 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 33.9 percent of Americans over the age of 20 are obese, and 34.4 percent are overweight. This means the majority of American adults (more than 60 percent) are over a healthy weight range. In response to the growing number of childhood obesity, controversial anti-obesity ads have become prevalent in Georgia.
The organizations Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Strong4Life have recently released an ad campaign called “Stop Sugarcoating,” which urges viewers to stop ignoring the problem of childhood obesity. A shocking percentage of children in Georgia are overweight or obese at 40 percent, which means the state has the second highest number of overweight children following Mississippi.
These ads are challenged due to their striking nature–one ad shows an overweight young girl, and is captioned “It’s Hard to Be a Little Girl if You’re Not.”
Another features a son asking his overweight mother, “Mom, why am I fat?,” only to be greeted with sighs of shame.
Many people, including physicians and parents, agree this ad campaign is too harsh and only invites children to feel bad about themselves. While these ads are definitely harsh, people must realize the world isn’t always sweet and inviting.
It’s necessary to grab people’s attention so they can start doing something about this problem.
The myriad of health problems that stem from obesity is just one reason obesity must be fought. Heart disease, diabetes and cardiac arrest are just a few of the common problems that stem from being obese. In order to avoid these issues, people must realize how important it is to exercise and eat healthy.
Teaching children how to lead a beneficial lifestyle could be the ticket to a healthier generation. Much of the childhood obesity problem should be credited to poor parenting skills, as some parents would rather give their child a cookie to shush them than use discipline. Reinforcing their own vices of comfort eating through their children is a sad reality. These parents would rather their child suffer from the same health issues than admit they’re not eating well.
Many overweight children have overweight parents, and this is no coincidence. These children may be told they shouldn’t be ashamed of their weight, and that it isn’t a problem. While I certainly don’t believe overweight people should focus on shame, they must realize the health benefits of remaining a healthy weight.
Although this message is certainly necessary to have people realize that obesity is a problem, it would be more effective if these ads told people how to improve their health through simple methods. Urging people to take the stairs instead of the elevator, to have an apple instead of a brownie, or to drink lots of water could help. Using the striking nature of the original ads with helpful tips could be much more effective.
If people are merely told to eat less, eating disorders and other unhealthy eating habits such as binge eating could develop. Besides knowing the facts behind obesity, options for a healthy diet and exercise plan must be provided as well.
It’s time people worried less about hurting feelings and more about improving health. Children deserve to be given a chance to live healthier, instead of being doomed to their parents’ bad eating habits. Educating the masses about the several health detriments of obesity as well as ways to improve health could help stop the epidemic.