A new ad campaign against childhood obesity has drawn criticism for its depiction of overweight children as lonely and depressed. The campaign, spearheaded by Strong4Life, features taglines like "Some diseases aren't just for adults anymore" and "Being fat takes the fun out of being a kid," delivered by unhappy, overweight kids.

"If we do not wake up, this will be disastrous for our state," explained an official at the Georgia-based organization Children's Healthcare, which helped co-found  Strong4Life. Other experts agree, and one Stanford University School of Medicine professor said, "To change deep-seated social and physiologic behavior like eating will require enormous work, and these ads will help the family start thinking about prevention."

The ads have already been met with plenty of backlash, though, partially because they don't actually suggest a solution to the obesity epidemic, and as one health expert complained, "Blaming the victim rarely helps. These children know they are fat, and they are ostracized already." 

Yikes. Well, based on personal experience as a sad, chunky kid, these ads don't exactly feel like an overstatement. On the other, is it really a great idea to tell kids with weight problems how much it sucks to be them? Check out one of the spots below, and decide for yourself.

Commentarium (7 Comments)

Jan 03 12 - 1:54pm
Maurice Richard

It's time to stop dancing around this issue. It's not a disease. It's a 'lifestyle' disease and it cannot be blamed on genetics. And childhood diabetes ain't pretty.

Criticized for not providing the solution?

Eat less, move more!

Jan 03 12 - 7:54pm

There's no getting around this. Either you eat healthy food and exercise, or you're a fat sluggard and deserve to die young and unhealthy. Am I right, or am I right? Fatties.

Jan 03 12 - 5:08pm
Dale Cooper

All that appeasement and self-esteem building by these parents is gonna do kids really well when their fucking dead by their early 20's. I'm not saying self-esteem isn't important, it is. But in my opinion health, which is more tangible, holds more weight in the long run than worrying about somebody's "feelings". Im empathetic with people who have serious health problems and genetic disorders, but shame on those who just sit back and do nothing, same for the parents too. Kids being obese needs to no longer be the social norm.

Jan 03 12 - 8:07pm

The first one seemed pretty bad (victim-blaming a kid for getting teased is pretty ass-backwards) but the other ones seemed appropriately intense. Obesity is a much more dangerous problem than people would like to admit, and that seems to be what the ads are speaking to. The duty of a campaign like this is to keep the focus on health and fitness, and it seems like, excepting the first ad, they did just that.

Jan 04 12 - 1:01am
Pot-er Head

As a life long 'fat kid,' these ads connect with my past. Growing up 'fat' is tough, school children are cruel and mean without knowing the effect of what exactly it is they are saying. With that being said, obesity is a treatable condition. I choose the word condition because obesity can be overcome. It is possible for any overweight person to achieve a healthy weight, just look at 'The Biggest Loser.'
At the same time, it is difficult for an overweight child to lose weight because of the negative feedback from peers. When a classmate calls you fat, it can push a child to self-destructive behaviors (aka eating snack food). A large influence of this is evident in societal norms. The media portrays skinny, slim, borderline anorexic as the optimal body type.
If the culture can shift from 'skinny is good' to 'healthy for your size is good,' I think we, as a society, can put up a good fight against obesity in all ages.

Jan 04 12 - 3:59am

I saw these ads more as a message to parents than to children. Although I understand that eating healthy isn't always convenient for busy families and that no one can control 100% of their kid's food intake, parents are the ones who are the most at fault for the childhood obesity epidemic. What and how much children eat as well as how often they exercise is mostly up to their parents. We develop eating and exercise habits that often last a lifetime when we are young, so teach your kids good ones by buying and serving healthy food, limiting (but not forbidding) unhealthy foods, teaching them about health and nutrition, and making them go outside and play instead of spending all of their free time in front of the TV or computer. And model healthy habits... kids think that whatever they grow up with is normal, so make "normal" healthy. One of the saddest things about childhood obesity is that obese children grow up to be obese adults (and suffer all of the heath problems that come with that) at much higher rates than non-obese children, and also have a much harder time keeping weight off due to all of the excess fat cells they develop.

I don't mean to be sanctimonious, but it really got to me back in my food service days how frequently parents would order a cookie bigger than my face for EACH kid (can't they split one?!) on top of already calorific meals, or actually overrule a child's healthy preference (persuading their kid to get chips with a sandwich when the kid asked for an apple), or get six-year-olds massive blended frappuccino-type drinks with extra whipped cream and sauces when the kid would have probably been perfectly happy with the small size and a normal amount of toppings. I'm not a parent, but come on, some things are just common sense.

Jan 10 12 - 5:03pm

Roosevelt Franklin, BONG, Elementary School! (elementary school)..