Eating Recovery Center In the News: EverydayHealth.com

Anti-Obesity Ads: How Far is Too Far in Addressing Childhood Obesity?

In her most recent EverydayHealth.com blog posting, Julie Holland examines the issue of campaigns designed to combat childhood obesity rates. While childhood obesity is a serious health concern, are anti-obesity campaigns effective in addressing the issue or do they shame and stigmatize overweight and obese children? Read an excerpt of the article below, or click here to read Julie’s blog post in its entirety.

There’s no argument that childhood obesity is a serious health concern. More than one-third of children ages 10-17 are obese or overweight* and obesity rates among U.S. children grew from 14.8 percent in 2003 to 16.4 percent in 2007.**

Obesity is related to more than 20 major chronic diseases, including heart disease and diabetes, and children who are obese are more than twice as likely to die prematurely before the age of 55 compared to healthy-weight children.***

Education and nutritional intervention is key to combating childhood obesity rates; however, are anti-obesity ads effective in addressing the issue or are they crossing a line into body shaming?

As some of my readers may already know, I struggled with eating disorders from the time I was seven years old through much of high school. From a very young age I battled with negative body image and a low self-esteem; being perceived by my peers as the “fat girl in class” was never easy. This perfect storm of factors triggered an onset of binge eating disorder, anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa until I was nearly 20 years old.

Many obesity prevention campaigns promote balance and moderation, practices I agree with and that I think we can all support. However, a recent anti-obesity campaign in Georgia has come under fire for, according to critics, shaming and stigmatizing children who are obese. It probably goes without saying that this anti-obesity campaign hits close to home for me. Although I’ve been in recovery from my eating disorder for 30 years now, maintaining a positive body image and self-esteem is something I work on each and every day. When I see TV ads identifying overweight children as “fat” and placing a negative connotation on that label, I worry about what someone genetically predisposed to an eating disorder might think and feel.

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