MN Blue Cross' new anti-obesity ads spark controversy: Do they shame fat people? [VIDEO]

fat parents.jpg
The ads take fat parents to task for perpetuating cycles of obesity.
Earlier this month, a study concluded that half of Minnesota will be obese by 2030. In hopes of preventing that from happening, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota recently released two new anti-obesity ads.

SEE ALSO: Minnesota obesity epidemic? New study says half of us on track to be really fat by 2030

But some allege the ads hate the player rather than the game, so to speak. Instead of addressing the unhealthiness of cheap foods, critics say the ads end up doing little more than shaming fat parents and kids.

Here are the two ads in question:





The Atlantic interviewed Dr. Marc Manley, vice president and chief prevention officer for Blue Cross, to learn about the thought process behind the ads. Here's some of what he said:
Manley insists that the more serious campaign, finger-pointing and all, is what Minnesota needs. What convinced him was an analysis that predicted the current generation of children will have a shorter life expectancy than their parents. This is the first time in U.S. history that this is anticipated to happen, he says, and obesity is the main cause.

At the same time, they didn't want to alienate any Minnesotans. "We wanted to portray these as normal people, good parents, who had a good relationship with their kids," he explained. The people in the ads aren't locals, so they aren't likely to be recognized in the street or associated with the campaign.

But they're overweight, said Manley, because two-thirds of Minnesotans are overweight. And their target audience needs to recognize themselves in the commercials in order to effect what he hopes will be an "aha moment," where they realize that "the example of what they buy and what they eat may be sending the wrong message to their kids."
But in a Jezebel column, Lindy West -- an author who says she's struggled to control her weight throughout life despite maintaining healthy eating and workout habits -- characterizes the ads as making her "want to die."

The true problem, West argues, is that fatty foods are cheap to produce and consume. And even if that weren't the case, fat people would still exist -- after all, they've seemingly always existed -- so why pile on by publicly shaming them as well?

From her column:
Look. I don't want people to die. I don't want the next generation of kids to have lower life-expectancies than their parents. I want people to be healthy! But first of all, though weight loss can certainly improve some people's health, "fat" does not universally equal "unhealthy." Health itself is a much more effective and specific goal. And campaigns like this--which target fat people instead of the system that makes them fat--do nothing but hurt that supposed cause. An anti-fat-people campaign is still an ANTI-PEOPLE CAMPAIGN. And I'm pretty sure that treating people (fat people are people!) like animals, cartoonish ice cream addicts, and disease vectors is decidedly bad for people's health. The times in my life when I've been healthiest align directly with the times I've been happiest. This is not a loose correlation.

Here's a thought, America: If you really want people to be healthier (I'm not entirely convinced that you do, but that's another article altogether), why don't we treat the concept of getting healthy the way that getting healthy actually works? There is nothing that anyone is going to do or say that's going to make fat people skinny tomorrow. Sorry. There is no magic commercial that's going to shame people into becoming thin overnight--just like there's no housewife who discovered one weird trick to burning off belly fat. It's just not going to happen. The real problem is much bigger, much harder to solve, and much less fun for people who get off on hating fat people.

The truth is that we live in a country where the system of food production is colossally fucked. There is a systematic campaign to trick people into eating garbage because garbage is cheap to produce. There are whole communities who either can't afford or physically can't access fresh, healthy ingredients. The "obesity epidemic" is not a "fat kids love Cheetos epidemic." No fat people are up in arms when you criticize Kellogg's for claiming that Frosted Flakes are "part of a nutritious breakfast." No fat people get defensive when you make fun of that LUDICROUS Nutella commercial where the mom says she feeds her kids candy-spread for breakfast because it's "wholesome nuts with a hint of cocoa" or whatever. Because those things? They are what's known as ACTUAL PROBLEMS.
But despite the backlash, Manley told NPR he stands by the ads.

"Just because people like an ad doesn't mean it moves them to action," he said, speaking of the more warm-and-fuzzy feelings that accompany ads featuring positive reinforcement.

The goal, he said, is "to trigger some thinking and dialogue about this very serious health problem."


Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help
14 comments
davisrivas146
davisrivas146

Stupid article.  SHAME is GOOD.  Why do you think that in every other cultures telling someone 'you have no shame' is an insult.  Shame is what motivate people to correct bad behaviors like farting in an elevator or smoking.  Fat people NEED a healthy dose of shame, because apparently nothing else worked. The fundamental problem with American culture is that we have no shame. 

almchrl1
almchrl1

If we could only find a way to turn the fat into fuel everything will be ok.

Lipo centers on every corner.  Oh yeah!

JJJJ
JJJJ

Y'know, I can't afford to have kids so I DON'T. That really helps with finances. Through Planned Parenthood you can get FREE birth control so there is no excuse. People out there are whining that they can't pay their bills or afford to eat well. But you know what? I work two jobs and did not reproduce because I believe having kids is a privilage not a right. And I won't have them until I have money to house them and feed them NOT ON assitance. I struggle to feed myself proper nutrition (fresh fruits and vegatables and lean protein) but I make it a priortiy, and I KNOW if I had kids we would be eating mac and cheese and ramen because that's all I would be able to afford. A

chubbyhater
chubbyhater

Fuck fat people. Obesity is an epidemic. Feelings hurt? Tough shit. Fatties cost taxpayers billions. I'm sick of paying out the nose for gluttons. 

enjoy2
enjoy2

The execitive with his paid  vacation time looks forward to his Hawaii vacation.  He lives in Mc mansion the size of an apartment complex.  He has ten bathrooms in his mansion. Each of these bathrooms is bigger than many people's apartments.  The execitive also has a few vacation "cabins".

The underemployed fat person has no paid vacation time.  No money to take a vacation.  Is afraid of their future.  The only thing this person has to look forward to is a box of chea p chocolates and a bag of chips.  It is the only spluge they can afford. The fat person does not live in a safe place to step outside your door and walk.  The community is not walkable.

Mr executive can step outside his front door and feel safe waling around the lake. mr execitve has a gym in his mansion. 

 

the poor fat person cleans one of Mr executives homes as their second job to make ends meet.. Mr executive had parents who went to the finest  private schools.. the poor fat slob went to public school, never had parent involvement in their education (mom assuring homework was done). Mom was not there cause she worked the night shift as a nurses aid in a nursing home.  The poor child went to sleep at night with his fingers in his ears so he did not ahve to hear his parents arguing about finances.

enjoy2
enjoy2

Recently it was calculated women still make less than men.  The stress of trying to make ends meet is not fun. Worrying about your financial future is stress. Wages have not risen, the cost of living is going up.  The number of people living in the poverty level is going up.  Ask any 50 year old what it is like to lose their job.  Companies are going to hire a 20 year old right out of school before they hire that 50 year old.  American is a country which worships youth (plastic surgery is booming--but a laid off worker can't afford surgery to look young).  At some point these people realize their life is over at 50.  They have no prospect of a job. The yare shunned. This is reality. Executive are greedy. They want a high unemployment rate so they can hire people to clean their house and take care of their lawn etc cheaply.  The gap between the haves and have nots has risen. As the gap gets bigger, obesity will continue to rise.

enjoy2
enjoy2

The bigger problem is working conditions and pay have to imrpove.  I don't remember what the percentage is but a great majority of Americans do not get vacation time with jobs.  We/Americans are asked to work longer hours with less pay. Then you add on top of that absent fathers through divorce. Here you have these women working full time jobs with no vacation time.  On top of that women are responsible for taking care of the children which is another full time job. People can not do and have it all (children and a full time job) without something giving way. What is giving away is their health.

 

Sure some executive can put out these commercials pointing a finder at poor fat people.  But these executive have plenty of mondy to live an easy live.  They have someone cleaning their house, they have someone taking care of their kids (nanny), they can afford to have their groceries delivered.  Contrast that with the poor mom working a full time job living paycheck to paycheck--that is stress.  Stress puts weight on a person.  Then you add on the financial stress of losing a job. Only to get a new job with less pay and less benefits.  Add on to that losing stable housing.  Eating a healthy diet and physical activity takes time and resources. Many people are lacking both.  Americans get less vacation time than many other advanced countries. 

Lex Lambent
Lex Lambent

corporations are gonna do what they're gonna do. and most of the time there is some underlying corruption happening that makes these companies thrive. so it's up to US as consumers to make the best dietary decisions we can based on the options we're given. if we're pushing for government to do something, how about putting more nutrition education programs in our schools? most of the time, parents end up learning more from their kids then the other way around. i'm sick of this blame game. blame yourselves for being lazy and making bad decisions. you know that feeling of guilt that you get after killing a whole bag of cheetos? pay attention to that feeling, it's your conscience telling you maybe it should have been a handful of baby carrots.

Tanner Slade Olson
Tanner Slade Olson

Dont put so much damn food in your mouth and exercise! Your the parent take control of your kid. And you shouldnt want to feel full, being really full makes you sleepy. Smaller meal protions and more exercise. Keep busy and stay active.

Shawn Taylor
Shawn Taylor

Yes Alex a bag of chips is the same price as a bag of salad, but look at the serving sizes. Cost per serving is what you should look at not cost of a bag. The other problem is that fruits and veggies are just not as filling, or at least they don't keep you feeling full as long.

Lex Lambent
Lex Lambent

how is it complex? healthy options are out there and they're NOT much more expensive. a bag of salad costs the same as a bag of chips. it's like blaming cigarette companies for lung cancer. are you kidding me??? people simply don't want to take responsibility for their own actions and that's just pathetic.

McLain Causey
McLain Causey

No problem with it, but I wonder if an AstroTurf campaign to raise awareness about the deeper underlying root causes of obesity might be a better, or at least a worthwhile complementary, approach. We need as a public to hold the government and embedded special interests to account for subsidizing unhealthy foods at the expense of healthy ones. The economics that make a bag of Cheetos cheaper than a serving of fresh vegetables or fruit are entirely artificial via subsidy. The food triangle our government promulgates is molded to our agriculture, which is molded to growth, not health. We need fundamental changes here. But there also needs to be personal accountability.

chubbyhater
chubbyhater

 @enjoy2 I agree, we should totally cut back on fatso's food stamps. 

Now Trending

Minnesota Concert Tickets

Around The Web

From the Vault

 

Loading...