Do TV Childhood Obesity Ads Help Kids Lose Weight? TV Experts Say Yes And No!

Georgia Anti-Obesity Campaign10-09-2012 On a recent Dr. Oz Show, one topic of discussion was the state of Georgia’s anti-obesity campaign where the controversial ads came under fire.  The state of Georgia defended the ads saying,  ”More straight talk and less sugar coating” is needed to help the obesity crisis.  While some in Georgia feel ”We need to fight obesity, not obese individuals.” Should we shame kids about being over weight to get them to lose weight, The Power of Embarrassment?  Dr. Oz contacted Children’s Healthcare Of Atlanta, who sponsored the ads.  They said “The ads were intended to raise awareness in Georgia of the medical crisis facing our children and families – and we achieved our goal.  But, with 75% of parents of overweight/obese kids still in denial about the medical risks possibly facing their child, our work has not ended.”
Dr. Oz had a panel of his colleagues give their expert opinion on whether they feel these type of ads actually work at motivating kids and their to families to lose weight.

Dr. Richard Besser, a pediatrician who once served as the head of the CDC and is now Chief Health and Medical Editor at ABC News says these bullying type ads don’t work. As a pediatrician,  he says he has yet to see a child who is overweight who didn’t feel bad about it.  Or a parent of the child who wasn’t aware that it wasn’t good for their health.  So one of the things you want to do in that relationship is to build the child’s self-esteem and comfort level with their own body.

Dr. Jon Lapook, Clinical Professor of Medicine at Columbia University Medical Center and Medical Correspondent at CBS Evening News said “you can not ask a 13 year old kid to make a healthy choice.  You have to place them in an environment where they just “trip” over healthy choices naturally. That’s what’s happening in NYC and elsewhere and it has been shown to work!”

Dr. Nancy Snyderman, Chief Medical Editor at NBC News says these ads do not work.  You don’t shame teenagers, especially when they are vulnerable.  They are already vulnerable because they are teenagers.  “I would argue that it is the adults in society that have made it so bad that these kids are now fat.  We have taken exercise out of school.  We have put rotten food in front of them.  We have fractured the line between farm to fork.  Now we have fat kids and we are making them feel guilty about it.  Sorry, but it is our responsibility to fix it for them.” But Dr. Snyderman, who also appeared on NBC’s Today Show recently, had a different opinion regarding this TV Public Service Ad by Blue Cross and Blue Shield in Minnesota.

Matt Lauer comments that the critics say that the ads are negative, condescending, and they use shame to get the message across Nancy Snyderman says she is reversing her opinion on this ad because they direct the message to the parents.  This ad she thinks is a very poignant Public Service Announcement. Star Jones, lawyer and Donny Deutsch, advertising executive were also part of the Today’s Professionals panel discussion.

Donny Deutsch says he is for any shock value in a PSA.  He says you cannot have a “stop smoking” commercial with just a man smoking a cigarette.  Just telling someone that your kid is fat, well, they know that already.  You need to show the cause and effect.

Star Jones says she thinks these ads are very effective. Star’s own struggle with obesity is publicly known.  She said there are several different ways to approach a person who is obese.  It was the “scared straight” tactic that worked for her.  And she said she was ashamed. And if she didn’t get it thrown in her face it would never have worked.  Her tipping point was the thought that she would be found morbidly obese and having a stroke lying on her floor.

We at ANewDayANewMe.com feel that no one has the right to judge and to put others down with the purpose of making them feel shameful and unworthy.  Just as Jennifer Livingston at WKBT in La Crosse, Wisconsin said when she so eloquently responded to a viewer’s criticism about her weight, “Do you think I don’t know that!”

We adults already know when we are overweight.  But skinny or fat, everybody has a cross to bear. We all know when we drink too much after work, spend too much time on questionable websites, buy way too many lottery tickets on a regular basis,  shop too much, have too much credit card debt,  the list goes on and on. And we don’t need just any one “puttin’ in their two cents”,  stressing us out when we are already trying our hardest, everyday, to find the strength to conquer our own personal demons.

But when it comes to our kids, most of us agree, that a parent’s inner strength comes out like David fighting Goliath and we would gladly lay down our life for the well-being of our children. We find the inner strength to work those two and three extra jobs to give our kids the best that we can afford. The best clothes, the best schools, the best neighborhood, the best house, the best college education. We will gladly sit up all hours of the night to care for our sick child or to wait all night for our teenage daughter to get home from a date.

But it seems when it comes to overeating, over indulging in food, there is a disconnect. We, as the guardians of our children, need to remember that diabetes and high blood pressure are knocking at the door of our overweight and obese children. Thousands of people have died from the long term effects and complications of these diseases.

The good news is we as parents have the all encompassing power to stop it and reverse our family’s health! Our kids trust us to do the right thing for them. They willingly look up to us as role models. We are the Bomb! We Rule!

Just as our kids learn from us to speak properly to their grandparents, learn that it is important to do well in school, look out for family and brothers and sisters, revel in the joy of family outings at Disney, the beach, the zoo, the park, the backyard…just like their brains can suck up languages like a sponge…our kids will learn from us how to eat and live a healthy lifestyle… if only we adults can make that connection to their healthy well being and their diet…and show our kids how to do it! It’s up to us!

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