ATLANTA - The Strong4Life campaign childhood obesity ad campaign, run by Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, has come under fire for what some believe is a mixed message on the stigma of obesity.
The campaign€™s billboards feature sad looking children, with warning banners and taglines like "Chubby isn't cute if it leads to type two diabetes," "My fat might be funny to you but it's killing me," and "Being fat takes the fun out of being a kid," reports the London Free Press.
"Personally, I would not have gone this way, because you can't make a claim to be concerned about the wellbeing of one part of the person and not be concerned about the other parts of the person," Kenneth Wong, a marketing professor at Queen's University who specializes in advertising, told the news source, adding, "Have we now attached a stigma to people who look more portly than others even if they happen to not be obese?"
"Dances With Fat" blogger Ragen Chastain and her colleagues are so disgusted by the ads that they are now raising money to launch a counter-ad campaign that will send a more positive message "with no humiliation of kids of any size." She told the news source that the new ads will be ready to run in March.
"It was using humiliation for health care and I think it's despicable," said Chastain of the Strong4Life ads. "I think that you can support developing healthy habits in kids of all sizes without humiliating any kids at all."
The ads have also sparked ire from health officials at the Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity at Yale University and the National Institutes for Health, which both point to research that shows shaming obese children is counterproductive and can lead to more excess eating and less exercise.
Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, meanwhile, believes that the controversy over the ads shows that they€™ve accomplished their goal.
"Our intention was to get people talking about childhood obesity and we did that. We can't do this alone; it's going to take a whole community of physicians, parents and caregivers to solve the problem," Linda Matzigkeitm, chief administrative officer of the hospital, told CNN. "If parents continue to be in denial we're not going to get past this crisis."