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Think Healthy Thursday: Create Health Campaigns that Excite Children

The Strong4Life campaign has received attention lately for their controversial campaign asking their audience in Georgia to “stop sugarcoating” the youth obesity problem. The ads feature young people talking about how they feel about their size. Proponents claim that this is the wakeup call needed to get parents and the  community to recognize that this is a problem that requires attention. Others oppose the ads because they seem to blame and/or exploit the victim.

The ads have certainly raised the issue. Statistics from the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) indicate that youth obesity is a problem…

  • Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years.
  • In 2008, more than one third of children and adolescents were overweight or obese.

The question to consider is whether this is an approach to solve the health problem of today’s youth. The campaign maintains a Facebook page where they offer helpful tips for maintaining a healthy life. I was happy to see that support. Checking out the Facebook page I noticed a comment from a fan that caught my eye…

Remove the shaming billboard campaign and lead with an inclusive campaign that gets all children excited about exercise and eating well.

Be for healthy children of all sizes, not against fat children.

That was a sentiment that struck me – especially at a time when obesity isn’t the only problem we see with youth. We see teens going the opposite direction and choosing not to eat enough food. We see fad diets. We see children who don’t know how to eat well – because they aren’t learning at home or school. Part of the issue is that parents may have never learned about nutrition at home or school either. Now is the time to get children (and families) excited about exercise and eating well.

We strive to spur that excitement through our educational nutrition products and support of broad campaigns such as MyPlate, programs such as LANA, which speak to the youngest children and deep rooted programs such as FACS (Family and Consumer Science) programming in schools, which helps create healthy children who become healthy parents (and teachers and doctors and policymakers). That is a recipe that we think will help inspire today’s youth to make healthy choices for themselves and give them the tools to support healthy children in the future.

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