Health agencies, public and non-profit, are going all out to combat the epidemic of obesity in America. They are targeting kids. Many of the images and ideas being used are startling with depictions of chubby kids and messages of the health risks like shortened life spans. While these attention-grabbing tactics have received some praise, they also have raised anger from parents, teachers and activists.
The creators of these ads say they have to be jarring to get the attention of the public and especially parents. But others say these negative images are doing the wrong thing by depicting fat kids that way. These critics worry the ads encourage bullying and negative self images. They say the better way to go is promoting positive self images while encouraging healthier behavior. In other words, the fat stigma might convince some people they can’t do anything about it and to seek comfort in unhealthy behavior.
One sticking point in the argument is the emphasis by those fighting childhood obesity on the Body Mass Index (BMI). They want schools to issue a BMI report card to show parents in denial that their kids have a problem. But others say that puts the emphasis on weight not health. They believe the better approach is advocate health at any weight. They say the negative images of fat kids, who already face peer challenges in school and elsewhere, make the youths less inclined to make changes in their life because they aren’t worth it.
The American Academy of Pediatrics which endorses the campaign points out that one in three American children are obese. That puts them at risk for serious health conditions even before they reach adulthood. They say drawing attention to the problem and using the BMI as a measuring tool is a good idea.
But opponents say the emphasis should be on health not weight. They want to make sure campaigns such as these fight obesity, not obese people.
What do you think? Should fat people, even kids, be treated differently? Or is there too much danger of driving these people to suicide and emotional pain?
Posted on August 8th, 2011 by James
Filed under: News Discussion