Discussion
  • Thanks for a thoughtful post, Alicea. We as adults should be leading by example. That’s where the change has to begin.

    From Linda Hopkins
    January 4, 2012

  • I agree with you. If scare tactics were the answer, nobody would smoke given the messages that have been on cigarette packages for years. Small changes, paid forward to others is the answer!

    From Lyle Orr
    January 6, 2012

Georgia’s Solution to Childhood Obesity

While in Atlanta this past week visiting my family, I took in all the familiar sights and sounds of the city. I love looking at the bright lights and buildings during the Christmas season. One thing, however, caught my eye that I can’t seem to shake. As I was walking down the street with some friends, we passed a billboard with the image of a young girl and the words “Being fat takes the fun out of being a kid” written next to her. With a shocked expression on my face, I told my friends to read the billboard and they replied that similar billboards were all over the place.
Other billboards read: “It’s hard to be a little girl if you’re not.” “Big bones didn’t make me this way, big meals did.” “Fat prevention begins at home. And the buffet line.”
I have several issues with these messages.
Although childhood obesity is a serious issue, I believe these billboards are bringing more negative attention to this growing problem than good. One of the first things I learned while studying Public Health in school was that positive affirmations are more powerful than scare tactics. If the intent was to scare a child out of eating a large-size combo meal from their favorite fast food chain was the point in this ad, I’m not sure it’s going to work. In fact, with such a strong stigma placed on overweight children in this message I’m pretty sure it would cause almost anyone who finds comfort in food to turn just there after one glance of these billboards.

While other states have made vast improvements in the quality of food choices in vending machines and school cafeterias, I can’t figure out why the group sponsoring these billboards put so much time and money into such a negative message.
We all need to make a commitment to eat better, make time for physical activity and to simply treat ourselves better. Just as Lisette wrote about in her post “Just For Today,” each day we need to make a point to make at least one simple change to help improve our health—I think this is a much better message to share with youth today. Change starts with ONE thing, ONE person does. Let’s change where we go to dinner every Tuesday night; Let’s change what we do right after we get off from work. I believe that if we change at least one unhealthy habit ourselves and encourage today’s youth to join us, this simple act will have much more of an impact on obesity than these hurtful billboards.
An image of one of the billboards is below. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section.

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