Dr. Drew: Childhood obesity ads having intended effect?
An ad campaign aimed at ending Georgia's childhood obesity epidemic has generated a lot of controversy recently.
The ads, part of Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta's "Strong4Life" campaign, feature children and family members speaking candidly about being overweight. Their research finds 75-percent of parents with overweight or obese kids did not see their children as having a weight issue.
The SHAPE Act passed by Georgia lawmakers requires some children to be weighed and measured. The results are then reported to parents and the State. The question is, will this $50 million push help solve the obesity epidemic or is the focus on the wrong thing? Dr. Drew and his guests discussed the issue.
“We are number two in the nation with childhood obesity,” said pediatric surgeon, Dr. Mark Wulkan, who also represents the Children`s Healthcare of Atlanta. “That`s a top 10 that we want to get out of. And the only way to get out of it is to first admit you have a problem. The process for any change begins with awareness and acceptance that there is a problem that needs to be solved."
CNN Education Contributor Steve Perry thinks the ads will have the intended effect.
“I remember when I was in middle school, the campaign was about trying to get kids to not smoke, so they showed us the lung of a smoker in class and it frightened us,” he explained. “So obesity is a lethal disease that is curable. When I go to visit schools in the South, I see some pretty large children … I think the parents accept that they are just built that way, and many times you hear children – parents say they`re just big-boned. Well, they`re no big skeletons. There`s big meat on those bones and they need to see that."
Bob Greene, author of "The Life You Want" said he has no doubt that something needs to be done.
“The health consequences are dire,” he stated. “However, I look at someone struggling, in particular a child, with their weight - it`s never about just they`re eating too much - there`s almost always issues behind it. And the root of this is usually the way the child feels about themselves. “
Dr. Drew added, “I deal with a population that`s been highly traumatized. And think of this from an evolutionary perspective. If there is trauma to a young animal or young human, it makes sense if a human is entering a traumatic environment that they would want to quickly accumulate as much calories as they could, with the sort of adaptive idea that the environment may not allow them to eat in the future because it`s a very dangerous, traumatizing environment. The problem is that after trauma in our culture, they enter an environment where there`s nothing but gratifying, fatty, fast foods, and so obesity ensues, and then obesity becomes a strategy for keeping people away.”
The panel went on to talk about how the economy has affected the way families are eating, in such that they are now buying cheaper, unhealthier food items. They also spoke about what role parents and schools really need to play in educating children about proper eating habits and physical activity.
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