Campaign against childhood obesity could take lessons from success of the anti-smoking effort
"At some point in recent history, America’s youth got the message that Marlboros were hazardous, but Doritos were hip.
For all of society’s hand-wringing over childhood obesity, the latest studies show the epidemic only getting worse. Since 1980, when potato chips and TV and poverty were just as plentiful, obesity rates among youngsters haven’t just swelled. They’ve tripled.
But smoking has decreased — to the degree that 80 percent of 10th-graders would rather not even date a smoker, up from 68 percent who told that to University of Michigan pollsters in 1997.
So experts wonder: Could the bold strategies of the anti-tobacco campaign be duplicated in a full-bore, in-your-face mission to get more kids on board with healthy eating and exercise?
One TV ad produced by the New York City health department takes off the gloves when it comes to guzzling sugary sodas. A handsome young man pops open a can and pours into a glass some goopy, yellow, chunk-filled sludge, representing fat.
An actor downs the drink, which drips down his chin. The screen reads: “Drinking 1 can of soda a day can make you 10 pounds fatter a year.”
“I don’t think we have a choice but to take on obesity,” said Lloyd Johnston of the Institute for Social Research at Michigan.
But Johnston would advocate a more subtle educational strategy without shaming young people into eating better or getting off the couch."
To do that, many said, would require not just tweaking the attitudes of young Americans but educating their parents, taxing soda and fatty foods to price the youngest buyers out of the market, posting warning labels, regulating advertising, and holding companies accountable for the damage their products can do.
All of those tactics were used in the decades-long campaign to change smoking habits."
"In a culture getting beyond making fun of fat folk (partly because there are so many of us), experts acknowledge the trickiness of attacking diet habits that press against other troubles of children and youth — self-esteem, social acceptance, class, eating disorders."
"The government in Great Britain just selected an advertising firm to beat back obesity there. Again, the idea is not to single out and scold the heaviest among us, but to encourage good health for all.
The target audience? Those who fail to link life-shortening disease to diet — a tactic that experts said ultimately worked in getting teens to lay off cigarettes."http://www.kansascity.com/2010/03/20/18 ... esity.html
"But Johnston would advocate a more subtle educational strategy without shaming young people into eating better or getting off the couch"
But whatever he might personally advocate, as before, it is a bullies charter, it will attract the wrong people and over the years will get completely out of hand.