In recent weeks, there have been a number of hard-hitting anti-obesity campaigns making headlines. As Trish Taylor described earlier this week, Georgia’s “Strong4Life” anti-childhood obesity campaign, introduced by the Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, uses short ads, billboards, and TV spots depicting an obese child and statements including “fat kids become fat adults,” and “it’s hard to be a little girl when you’re not” to urge Georgia to “stop sugar coating the problem.” The campaign was selected for its shock value after research revealed that despite Georgia ranking second nationally for overweight and obese children, 50 percent of the people surveyed did not recognize childhood obesity as a problem and 75 percent of parents with overweight or obese children did not see their children as having a weigh issue. The campaign is planned as a $50 million project over five years, with three phases.
In addition, New York City launched subway ads this week, one of which features a diabetic man whose leg was amputated due to complications with the disease alongside of growing portions of soda and the statements, “Cut your portions. Cut your risk.” and “Portions have Grown. So has type 2 diabetes, which can lead to amputations.” By highlighting growing portion sizes and their potentially devastating consequences, the New York Health Department hopes to urge New Yorkers to be more aware of the quantity of their food and beverage choices. The campaign ads direct those interested to call 311 to receive a “Healthy Eating Packet.”
Both campaigns have been heavily criticized in the media and by health professionals for their hard-hitting approach to raising awareness about obesity because of their failure to follow through on actionable messages and resources. In light of the ongoing dialogue about these campaigns, and our fear that campaigns such as these might deter future thought-provoking, arresting, and actionable public health campaigns, Trish and I have been discussing the value and effectiveness of “wake up call” campaigns. Here is our point of view. Read the rest of this entry »