Stop the cycle? Stop the ridiculous commercial

Heart attack.  5’9″ 300 lbs, 32 years old.

How the hell does that happen?

So begins the below video, which I came across on Facebook this weekend (email subscribers can view it by visiting the blog).  The video is titled “Stop the cycle”, and was created as part of Georgia’s “Strong 4 Life” campaign.  Georgia has a real problem when it comes to childhood overweight and obesity, and so they’re trying to do something about it. Which sounds great in theory.  In execution, however, things get problematic.  In a hurry.

The video works backwards from a heart attack at age 32 to the root causes of obesity in early childhood, focusing on several obesity-related stereotypes along the way. There are shots of meal time (ice cream and pop, lots of fast food – especially fries), lots of clips of being out-of-breath and not using exercise equipment, playing video games, being yelled at by a parent for hording candy in a sock drawer (!?), more than one doctor saying “you have to make a change”, and finally ending with a young mother feeding a fussy baby french fries because “it’s the only thing it will make him stop [crying]”.

So there you have it – if you feed your kids fries, they will horde candy and eventually have a heart attack at a young age.  Forget about a complex interplay of genetic and environmental factors – feeding your kid fries is the gateway drug for childhood obesity.

This is not to say that I think childhood obesity is an unimportant issue – far from it.  And there is absolutely a role for parental education in dealing with childhood obesity. However, terrifying people into action doesn’t seem like the most effective way of dealing with the problem.

Our colleague Yoni Freedhoff discussed another component of this campaign earlier this year, and his comment gets right to the heart of the matter:

So while I’m all for public health campaigns to address childhood obesity, it’s not the individual victims that I think we should be focusing on, it’s the world they’re growing up in.

To help illustrate my point, try to imagine childhood obesity as a flooding river with no end in sight. While teaching children how to swim might help temporarily in keeping them afloat, given that the flood isn’t abating, chances are, even with the best swimming instructions, the kids are going to get tired and sink. So while swimming lessons certainly can’t hurt, what we really need to be shouting about doing is actually changing their environment and building them a levee.

The real problem with these ads is that they suggest that we’re going to solve this problem on an individualized case by case basis.

Not surprisingly, the video stirred up a fair amount of debate when my friend posted it to Facebook.  I’m curious to hear what you think.


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43 Responses to Stop the cycle? Stop the ridiculous commercial

  1. WRG says:

    The Health At Every Size (HAES) world has talked about practically nothing but this vile campaign (of which this video is but a small example) for weeks now.

    I really cannot see how we as a society can make any progress on the health front by constantly re-hashing the stereotypes of the fat, slovenly, lazy, junk-food eating idiot.

    Strong4Life sells itself as an awareness campaign. In fact, it is a hate campaign cloaked in the lie “we’re just telling you because your health is in danger [but you’re too ignorant/stupid to realize it].

    Today’s so-called “health” campaigns continue to be based on a series of pervasive and dangerous lies and unfounded assumptions such as:
    -eat less – move more and you’ll lose weight and keep it off;
    -all fat people are lazy pigs (the wording is harsh, but you only have to read the comments sections of articles dealing with obesity to see that that is essentially what most people believe);
    -only people with a BMI of less than 25 are healthy (and its corollary: “fat and healthy” is an oxymoron);
    -being overweight is not normal (in other words, all people have the same genetic and hereditary baggage and are all meant to have the same–slim–build);
    -for a given height, body build and activity level, everyone can eat the same number of calories and maintain a “healthy” weight.

    As long as these myths form the basis of the war on obesity, the only progress we will make will be to increase biais and stigma against fat people.

    Health shmealth.

  2. BrunO says:

    Recently, there was a nice post on EHP: Obesogens: An Environmental Link to Obesity

    It’s nearly the same stereotype of explanation when it comes to diabetes. Of course to much fat does no good as many pollutants derived from oil are fat-soluble. The reason for such stories is not to blame big business which is causing all that pollutions for the benefit of some few “fat” cats.

  3. A campaign that blames the victim, further stigmatizes an already misunderstood community and goes against everything in the literature? Nope, I see nothing wrong with this.


  4. BrianA says:

    It’s disheartening that the focus is always on what we are supposed to be doing as individuals to protect ourselves and our children from obesity but we completely discount our human habitat. If we suddenly had an onslaught of obese lions, we wouldn’t assume that they lacked willpower and needed therapy…we would assume that there had been a significant change in their habitat. The obesity epidemic will go away when we stop letting food companies off the hook. They just keep giving us the old “it’s perfectly healthy in moderation” line, while they completely saturate the world with access to cheap, crappy food. Production precedes consumption. Easy access to food is the most critical factor in the obesity epidemic.

  5. Yannis Guerra says:

    More interesting that just bashing the ad is to think what to do instead that could work better.
    It is politically correct to be again such a crude/simple/misleading ad. But no solutions.
    All the commentators above are intellectually right.
    I can’t really see a 100 second ad addressing the complex interplay between genetics/socioeconomic factors and media and its effect on obesity.

    And they will lose all the fights for the public attention to even a mediocre marketing firm.

    An ad is very rarely an intellectual endeavor. It is an emotional pitch. It does NOT need peer review. It says “screw you” to all your citations.
    It abuses your cognitive biases, and uses your instincts against you ( for an interesting view of that)

    Fear, Sex, Shame, Envy, Admiration, Maleness/Femaleness triggers, In-Groupness, Prejudices,etc.
    Type I thinking.
    Those are the tools of their trade.

    You may not agree with their use. But they are the tools for winning. Just look at the ads for the Super Bowl. How many intellectually challenging ads are there? Even the half time for America is not based in reasoning, but in abusing the feeling of patriotism and our love for underdogs.

    That is why we may be intellectually right, but we keep on losing. And we keep on complaining how “unfair” it is that the big companies use these techniques for their own ads. But we do nothing more than that. Whine

    So we lose.

    To ads like these
    (I doubt that any of the people here has done anything in their whole life that has been seen more times than these ads)

    And we do not want to understand that we may need to dirty up our hands with a little bit of cognitive manipulation.
    So lets try the fear ad, lets try the fate ad, the sexy ad, the shame ad, the happy ad, the inspirational ad, the family ties ad, the love ad, the funny ad. The whatever we think may work ad.
    And see if they work. Then tweak, then check again. Then tweak again.
    Doing nothing for sure is not going to make a difference.

    And lets make sure we do not use our morality to fix a societal problem.
    We will keep on losing. As we are right now. Because we are “so” superior and above any of those “low life” techniques.

    Rationality is not for making sure that you are right. It is for winning at life.
    Lets combat their myths and misconceptions, but with something that works. Even if we may not like how it looks.

    • I understand that advertising does not appeal to our highest-order thinking skills. The problem is that this ad only makes the problem worse by reinforcing shame and stigma. You’re not going to get a convoluted discussion in 100 seconds, but you could put together a body-size-neutral ad that addresses behaviors. If doing nothing doesn’t make a difference, and this intervention just makes things worse, wouldn’t it be better to do nothing?

  6. Amanda S. says:

    I don’t think a fear and blame campaign that reinforces stereotypes really does anything, except perhaps increase feelings of guilt and shame. I believe many people have a pretty good idea about the reasons they or their children are overweight and the associated health risks. What they need is access to tools for change, or at the very least information focusing on what they can realistically *do* to help themselves and/or their children live a healthier lifestyle. Instead of pointing fingers, give some solutions. Now that’s an educational campaign that I’d like to see!

  7. Michele Arduengo (@redwngblkbrd) says:

    I’ve seen the horrid billboards and ads from this campaign while traveling in Georgia, and I was disgusted. There is nothing supportive or helpful in this campaign. All it does is make kids feel bad for their appearance, and I think the long term consequences of this campaign are going to be lots and lots of teenagers and young adults with eating disorders, parents and other kids bullying and calling others “fat”, and children afraid to ask for help or go to the gym. I am shocked that a supposedly responsible health organization like Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta could support this campaign and not see the long-term consequences of it. Institute a campaign that encourages children to exercise. Create a nutrition education program like “color me healthy” and bring it to the at-risk populations. Be positive, create an environment of support and trust so that kids will seek out help. But don’t berate and belittle the children. That is simply cruel.

  8. Jenny says:

    Thanks for your post – I am not sure if you have seen this PSA that came out of Australia last year:!
    The idea is similar, blaming/scaring the parents for their behavioral choices rather than looking at the broader social and environmental influences that might be affecting these choices. At that time, I wrote a paper about the PSA and the use of fear appeals in marketing. Research shows that in order for fear tactics to be effective, they must have a high level of threat, AND a high level of perceived efficacy (a person believes the solution will be effective, and they have the skills to act ). The Strong4Life PSA offers no solutions to the problem, and for that reason, I think it is victim blaming and will do more harm than good.

    • Jackie says:

      That ad from Australia is parent shaming. Really, feeding your child stereotypically unhealthy food, is the same as shooting them up with drugs? People need to eat, they don’t need drugs to survive. I don’t know what the person who came up with that ad was thinking. Showing a mother preparing to shoot her son up with drugs is shocking. That’s all the ad really accomplishes in proving. Equating it to feeding your child a burger, is no different than walking up to a parent in McDonald’s and saying “You’re a horrible parent letting your child eat that. I’m calling the police.” and just as absurd.

      Apparently these cowards can call parents of fat children poor parents hiding behind an ad, but I doubt they’d be willing to stand behind their exaggerated claims in person. What’s next for them? Suggesting sexual abuse is akin to feeding your child a burrito?

  9. Deirdre says:

    You are officially my hero. I have been protesting this campaign since I first saw it about a month ago. It turns the obese person into a pathetic joke and uses the inane “just stop eating” advice (like that has worked for so many of us obese people). I adore you and hope you keep writing about things like this. I felt like Don Quixote tilting at windmills when I was protesting it. Please keep going.

    • “just stop eating.” Because clearly, once your body hits BMI 25+, it no longer needs those pesky vitamins, minerals, etc. contained in actual food.

      There are so many problems with this campaign, and I’m glad to see the backlash has hit. As long as we continue to label body size as an epidemic of sloth and gluttony, EVERYONE’s health will suffer.

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  11. The behavioral psych folks at my uni have been using S4L’s ad campaign as a central piece in their introductory courses to the public health grad students: it’s been a semester of taking them apart as an absolute train wreck of a public health intervention.

    What’s terrible is that these ads aren’t just disgusting on a personal and ethical level, but from the standpoint of psychology and advertising there’s no way they will actually /work/. Making people feel like shite isn’t great, but occasionally a medical necessity: making people feel like shite for absolutely no net benefit is simply a travesty.

  12. Derek says:

    I’m a bit ambivalent on this issue. I’m also a little disheartened at this global notion of having to “devictimize” individuals. While I believe solid education on the definitions of obesity as it relates to body mass is a must, demonizing and attempting to regulate our “human habitat” has the potential to set some awful precedence towards regulating many aspects of our lifestyles. While obese invidividuals shouldn’t be blamed, they should also be encouraged to honestly look at their choices and assess the pros and cons of such behavior.

    • Travis Saunders, MSc, CEP says:

      Just to clarify, it’s not about strictly controlling people’s behaviours. It’s about making the playing field a bit more even so that it’s easier for people to engage in healthy behaviours if they choose to do so. Right now the “default” behaviours in our society are often unhealthy – driving to work for example, rather than taking transit or walking. It’s not about outlawing driving, but making the other options more convenient than they are currently.

      It’s the same with the food environment – if people have the skills necessary to create healthy meals and affordable access to healthy foods, yet still choose to eat fast food then so be it. But right now those healthy options aren’t legitimate options for some people, and that’s why the intense focus on the individual seems like a very inefficient way to go about solving the problem.

      • As I note on my own blog, the government currently recommends 5 – 9 servings of fresh fruit and vegetables a day.

        If one assumes an average intake of 7 servings, of 6 ounces each, a family of four will require 73.5 pounds of fresh produce. If we assume that’s half-vegetables (say, 80 cents per pound, according to a google of avg tomato and lettuce cost) and half fruit (say, 4 dollars per pound, based on googling blueberries and strawberries), that’s about $180 a week. And how the hell do you STORE all of that?

        And that assumes fresh produce is even available; I currently live in South End Boston, and unless you go to a boutique-y market where everything is grossly overpriced, you can’t actually /find/ healthy produce in the area (one of my professors actually sent us out to do so one evening, to very limited success).

        It’s difficult to actually eat healthily as SES goes down, above and beyond personal motivation. Social obstacles are not negligible.

        • Travis Saunders, MSc, CEP says:

          Thanks for that, James. One minor quibble with the fruit prices – aren’t berries about the most expensive fruit out there, at least by weight? If you’re consuming apples and oranges rather than strawberries and blueberries, I would imagine that would drop the price considerably, no? My wife and I eat a lot of fruit, but only occasionally do we buy fresh berries since they’re so expensive (not sure if this is the same everywhere, or just up here in Canada though).

          I agree with your larger point and the numbers are a nice illustration of the problem (being Canadian I’m not good at converting ounces to pounds, so I’ll take your other calculations at face value!), I’m just wondering if the issue wouldn’t be quite dramatic if you chose another type of fruit for your comparison.

          Also, out of curiosity, any thoughts on what it would cost to eat a more “typical” diet for a week? I know that pop and chips are dirt cheap, but other prepared meals or fast food can still add up quite quickly.

          • Erin S. says:

            If anything I think her price estimate for vegetables is really low. Sale prices on lettuce and tomatoes haven’t gone below $0.99/lb in my region for over a year, and the regular price is closer to $1.50/lb. The only thing I’ve seen that even approached $0.80/lb was turnip and collard greens around new years. Even then they were still $0.88 or .89 a pound.

          • Fair enough. If we assume half the fruits are apples ( I prefer to think in berries, since they offer a more diverse nutritional palette), then the price comes down to $122. Certainly more manageable, still rough.

            As to other foods, it depends on whether we’re comparing calorically or by mass. The federal government assumes a 20 oz loaf of bread is 2.27 (as of 2010). That’s about 1600 cals/pound, $1.80 per pound. That’s about 1/10 of a cent per calorie. An apple, by contrast, is about 250 calories a pound, or .4 cents per calorie (4 times as expensive as an apple, per calorie).

            A hot pocket, by comparison, is about $3.50 (package of 2 for about 7). One hot pocket is 530 calories. That’s about .65 cents per calorie, though it masses the same as an apple ( I keep coming back to mass because I know for a fact most people simply don’t have the /room/ in their fridge for more than 10-20 pounds of fresh produce, and if you make shopping a 3-5x/week event, people will take the easier route).

            A big mac is ~1080 calories per pound (a single big mac is 540 cals), and costs ~3.50. This comes out to the same cost per calorie as a hot pocket.

            I know trash is supposed to be cheaper, and I’m sure a more methodical search might find that, but I don’t see it.

            On the other hand, in my neighborhood, trash is the only thing that’s /available/. Nice supermarkets don’t open their doors here, which means even if trash weren’t priced lower, you still couldn’t buy anything but trash. I personally have to walk a half-mile in each direction to buy fresh groceries, which means a weekly trip carrying about 50lb. It’s good that I’m young and healthy and strong; that’s an imposition for most folks.

            (People don’t drive in this city; the municipal authorities have raised the costs and difficulties on car ownership so much that to do so will generally run you in the vicinity of $400-500/mo above and beyond the lease).

            • Travis Saunders, MSc, CEP says:

              Thanks for the detailed response! As with satiety, I think it comes down to how we define things – if we’re talking about cost per calorie, then you’ve made an excellent argument that junk food is the clear winner. If we’re talking about cost per “unit of fullness”, then I think it would be a closer fight, since many junk food items aren’t terribly filling for a given serving.

            • Isa says:

              The other part to this is the matter of convenience; even if theoretically junk food and fresh food from home aren’t costing that much difference, there’s the part where it’s simpler to run to McDonald’s on work break and grab something to eat, vs preparing a meal at home, packing it, bringing it, heating it up (if you need) etc.

              And of course the convenience of availability and shelf-life.

              Long story short: Fresh food is ideal but goes bad quickly and needs to be prepared, and in some cases, found where-as junky food is cheap, easy, and lasts.

              That aspect definitely needs to be changed.

        • I’d say the 6 oz. per serving is high — a serving is defined as 1/2 cup of veggies, or a full cup of leafy veggies. 1/2 cup of carrots for example, is only 2.3 ounces. A cup of spinach only weighs an ounce. If we call it 3 oz. a serving, we’re talking about 1 and 1/3 pounds fruits/veggies a day per person.

          And while $.80 might be low, $4 a pound for fruit is off the scale. I buy a lot of fruits and veggies, and I can typically buy some kind of fruit for $1 a pound.

          • For what it’s worth, I got the $4 price by averaging the national average of blueberries with the national average of strawberries. And by “Averaging the two”, I do mean “eyeballing.”

            Anecdotally, it’s entirely in keeping with the prices I see in stores.

            • Yes, but as someone who lived on very little money for a long time, I can pretty much guarantee you that most struggling families are not going to choose $4 blueberries when there are $1.49 lb. apples and $.89 bananas to be found. You’re trying to prove what a burden this is on families, but you are doing it by exaggerating the numbers — both in terms of weight per serving and cost. I do not dispute that it can be a challenge to do 5 a day, but it can be done for a lot less than what you are asserting.

        • hibob says:

          The serving size is actually 1/2 cup for most fruits and vegetables, and 1 cup for lettuce, either way maybe 3 ounces, so 37 lbs for the family for the week.
          I’ll bite on 80 cents a lb for vegetables, but the bulk of the fruit will be apples bananas, oranges: so $1.50/lb for fruit.
          If we go with 50:50 veg:fruit that comes to
          $42.50 for the week.

          But that pretty much assumes you have a car though, or public transportation is available to get you to a large non-boutiquey grocery store. Walmart tried to put one in Roxbury, but was rebuffed. Hopefully another chain, one with better labor practices will succeed.

      • BrianA says:

        I just don’t believe that obesity can exist for any large percentage of people in an environment where access to food is limited to unprocessed meat, poultry, fish, vegetables, fruits, nuts & seeds that must be turned into dinner by an individual via cooking at home. The argument isn’t whether people would like the food or whether they would be “deprived” of their right to choose and eat Cheetos or whether they would miss having ice cream every week (or day), but rather, would they be a healthy weight. I suggest that they would and that it would take little or no will power and little pro-vs-con decision-making. Even if you made flour, sugar and butter readily available the ability to make unhealthy food would be somewhat self limiting because they would have to bake a cake or pie or cinnamon rolls from scratch. Yes, people have to make decisions about their food choices but biological drives can quickly and relatively easily over-ride logic in an environment where sugary, salty, fatty foods are readily available. I don’t buy the slippery-slope argument that limiting access to commercially available food (potato chips versus whole potatoes) would lead to an overly regulated lifestyle. You would still have huge choices about what you ate, it just wouldn’t come along with a lot of advertising and packaging. I’m not any more secure in having giant food conglomerates involved in what foods are available to me than I am with having the government telling me what to eat.

        • Brian, while I prefer to cook from scratch, I think it’s unrealistic to assume that every home will have the equipment and someone with the time and know-how to make it into nourishing food.

  13. BrunO says:

    The Discussion here gets a strange twist in the direction the makers of such videos may intend. Obesity is not only a question of eating. Of course you can get fat by your food choice and the typical American denaturing of everything by roasting. Obesity is also triggered by environmental pollutants, which interfere with your natural hormones. They change your fat cells and your metabolism. Please read the article on Environmental Health Perspectives I mentioned above! Please do!

    Some may consider these pollutants as price of civilization and scientific progress. But they are the very hight price of our political system, of big business, which does not care about humans health or life. Even science is tainted by interests. Security standards always refer to an average healthy 30-40 year old man, not to the weakest most vulnerable like women and fetuses. Scientists are beginning to evaluate the long term results of even low level expositions and we have about 80.000 t0 100.000 artificial petro-chemical substances in 0ur environment.

    Don’t let such stupid videos determine how problems have to be discussed.

    • I agree and disagree.

      In terms of taking into account vulnerable populations, you’re incorrect. If you look at IRIS documents for safety reference doses, there’s an “uncertainty factor.” The UF is always at least 10x: that is, compared to what the labs say a safe dose is, the recommended safe dose in humans is always at least 10x smaller, to account for vulnerable populations.

      Otherwise, I more or less agree with you. Our chemical environment has changed drastically in the last century, certainly in keeping with the change in obesity prevalence.

      • BrunO says:

        Thanks for sharing my view and for introducing the Integrated Risk Information System to me.

        That’s more comlex, I think. As you indicated, the uncertainty factor varies. But who sets it and why does it differ with the substances? It may be an approach, but we will find the impossibility of safe levels sooner or later.

        Some (The Doctors against Nuclear War) already say, there is no safe level for radiation at all.

        There will be no safe lever for anything. Even very low levels can do harm in the long run. And we are not exposed to a single pollutant, which might be below of some perhaps responsibly chosen limit plus UF. We are exposed to many pollutants which add their impact. At least they add and don’t multiply as I once read. I hope so. And how to set a safe limit considering the extreme latency of cancer? Some impacts even occur in the next generation (like DES did).

        • I think you would benefit strongly from a thorough reading of one of the actual IRIS documents. Methylmercury is fairly well done; it’s a good place to start. The researchers explain in great detail which studies they reference, how their numbers are chosen, and which elements had to be “fudged” and were therefore countered with uncertainty factor, and how great a UF.

          Pretty much everyone agrees there is no safe level of radiation (some chemicals do have a dose at which they produce no ill effects – pretty much all chemicals, actually, though in practice this might be a negligibly small threshold). These are known as “no threshold” exposures. I strongly recommend you take a look at “Understanding Environmental Health,” by Nancy Irwin Maxwell. It’s a standard graduate book in environmental science and public health courses, and I believe that you’ll find that what you’re saying thus far is neither unknown nor controversial. Scientists take the no-threshold nature of radiation, as well as lagging effects, very seriously. All graduate students in the field are taught this as foundational material.

          Chemical interactions are neither unknown nor actively ignored, they’re simply so absurdly difficult to properly screen and analyze that it’s beyond most scientist’s ability to do so. Even in big budget departments, it’s ordinarily done just a couple of chemicals at a time, and even this takes years to properly analyze. The resources are simply unavailable: chemical interactions of the sort you describe are slow and resource-intensive to examine.

          Most of the slew of chemicals entering the market are not because any one in the scientific community reasonably believes this is safe. It’s mostly because of the industrial lobbyists in the U.S. and elsewhere that have managed to pass policies that make any new chemical legal to chuck in the air until and unless it’s conclusively shown to be harmful. These sorts of harms are immensely difficult to prove, and when you end up with indirect-at-best evidence from a handful of scientists up against the might of corporate lobbying to keep from losing their newest cash cow…

          I try not to be a cynic about these things, but sometimes it’s difficult.

          • BrunO says:

            It’s mostly because of the industrial lobbyists in the U.S. and elsewhere that have managed to pass policies that make any new chemical legal to chuck in the air until and unless it’s conclusively shown to be harmful.

            Exactly! – I cannot promise to read the whole EPA methylmercury paper but I bookmarked it along with Maxwell’s book and your blog.

            One of my favorite recommendations is Late lessons from early warnings: the precautionary principle 1896-2000

            You can skip all that prologues. All this cases follow a similar pattern. Mostly the risk of the substances was known from the very beginnings and harmlessness is stated by the producers as long as they can sell their stuff.

            Neat example is PBA:
            Timeline: BPA from Invention to Phase-Out

            The pecautionary principle was the best answer but the power of business is much bigger than any sense of responsibility.

            If somebody reads this and wonders: It’s all about the impact of chemicals on humans and one of it is obesity.

          • BrunO says:

            My last answer evaporated instead of appearing here, but meanwhile I found an article which discusses the problems of safe levels.

            Why EFSA should reject use of thresholds of toxicological concern in risk assessment

            PFOA, deltamethrin and BPA are listed as examples. Additionally I repeat my argument: Who knows what very low doses do over a long period of time?

            I’m still uncomfortable with this eating yourself fat discussion here: Some pollutants e.g. pesticides are endocrine disruptors which change your fat cells. That turns you fat even if you don’t eat to much. This can be read in the EHP paper.

  14. float says:

    I’m all for positive encouragement and would like to see the following PSA for cycling in middle aged men:
    When the overweight husbands have driven off to work in their SUVs the healthy hero comes riding on his bike, to pleasure their desperate housewives.

    • Jackie says:

      I’m sure you probably thought that was cute and funny, but it’s fat shaming. You need to get your ethics in order, if you think that suggesting to fat men if they don’t lose weight, their wives would leave them. Would you be okay with an ad that suggested if women get fat, their husbands will find a mistress in the same manner?

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  16. Sarah says:

    It worries me a lot when I read about similar advertisements whose goal is to depict childhood obesity as the child’s fault. The truth is, however, that obesity is not the child’s fault but the result of the parent’s inability to give them the care they need. Today’s parents are so busy that they rarely find time to be with their children. They all too often neglect the fact that children need to interact and cooperate with others in order to develop healthy relationships later in life. The natural result then can really be the child’s inability to manage stress which may finally lead to problems such as obesity or other diseases. That’s why I always tried to find some new activities to encourage the natural development of my chiIdren and visited as many baby-centers in Toronto as possible when my children were born. I discovered a number of funny ways to build a strong relationship and I always try to spend as much of my free time as possible with them to avoid similar problems in their adolescence.

    • Travis says:

      The truth is, however, that obesity is not the child’s fault but the result of the parent’s inability to give them the care they need.

      Just as it is problematic to put all the blame on kids, it’s equally problematic to put all the blame on parents. They have an important role, but the fact that parents may not have the time or skills to help their children says something about society as well as about the parents themselves.

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  18. adamas says:

    a note: While there is a complex dance of genetic and socioeconomic factors at play in obesity, they play a minor role. The access to food that is artificial processed, highly inexpensive, and addictive, is a built environment problem that leads to obesity among people of all genetic and socioeconomic predispositions. Surely the poorest are the hardest hit, as are those whose genetics are not ideal have it tougher; but Epigenetics has demonstrably shown that there is no genetic fate for obesity: you can inherit good genes and eat your way fat, or inherit bad genes and eat your way healthy. higher Socioeconomic status gives you access to the time and money to purchase better foods, and get more exercise; but access isn’t the same thing as eating healthy and exercising.