100 lb. Club - 'fat' billboards, what do you think?

01-31-2007, 11:27 AM
OK, so this was on my local news this morning about bill boards targeting overweight children. Anyway I just thought I'd see what people think, here are the links to a couple of the local news reports on the new campaign



(The fox news is a video report and does have sound FYI)

01-31-2007, 01:38 PM
(keep in mind that I'm a marketing major) - I don't think the billboard is very effective... too many words .. I wouldn't know that it was kids feet... while I was driving.

Do we need ads similier to this.. YES! However we also need to offer solutions at the same time to parents. ie. make suggestions for snacks... offer your child a cup of grapes rather then 2 oreo cookies. I think we need to educate the importance of how bad the problem is.. then offer solutions.


01-31-2007, 01:47 PM
Why are they targeting children? I don't think it is even ETHICAL to be advertising to young children. (Or I guess maybe the ad is for adults?) This is a huge public health concern and if people really wanted to make a difference in the lives of children they'd start by curtailing what ADs go on the TV. I don't mean ads for adults, but the ones that are made specifically for young children 5-12 years of age.

01-31-2007, 02:05 PM
I think it is a good idea.The future is not looking very bright for our children.The way the trend is going they will actually have a shorter lifespan than the generation before.We have to wake up and take action and do our job as parents by teaching our kids a healthy lifestyle.That's the reason I am here everyday trying to get my house in order to better teach my child.Just my 2 cents...

01-31-2007, 02:09 PM
(keep in mind that I'm a marketing major) - I don't think the billboard is very effective... too many words .. I wouldn't know that it was kids feet... while I was driving.
That's too funny...I took marketing and advertising in college as well, and the first thought in my head was, "Man, that's hard to read on my computer screen...who's going to be able to read it all while driving?!"

TempleBody--the ad is targeting the parents of overweight kids, not the kids themselves.

I think billboards like that will be completely ineffective. I'm pretty sure a parent knows whether or not their child is overweight and that being overweight is unhealthy, and if they are so uneducated or oblivious, then I really don't think a bilboard is going to open their eyes.

I guess I understand what they're trying to do, but I don't think this is the best way to go about it.

01-31-2007, 02:47 PM
We have known for centuries that being very overweight is unhealthy, so how does this "education," help anyone? Where is the practical knowledge of how to stop it. The fact is that the doctors and "scientists" don't know how to stop it, so how are parents?

Until good nutrition and exercise habits are taught, valued, encouraged, and available inexpensively for everyone, I don't see things changing. Our bad habits and values are so ingrained, we're not even aware of them. We reward bad choices, and punish good ones without even realizing it. Who ever heard of celebrating a birthday with veggies and low fat dip? Who tells their kids no asparagus until they finish their ice cream?

A billboard isn't going to fix any of the social norms that are contributing to poor nutrition and obesity.

01-31-2007, 02:53 PM
I totally agree. We as parents need to teach our children good habits just like we teach them manners.

01-31-2007, 05:18 PM
I think exercise is probably the biggest piece of the puzzle that is missing in the life of overweight children. I absolutely agree that good nutrition should be taught and practiced in the home to help children develop long-term, healthy habits. But, having three young children has given me ample opportunity to get to know and observe other children of varying backgrounds and lifestyles. The common denominator that exists for all of the overweight children that I know is that they do not actively play on a regular basis. They sit, watch TV, play video games, etc. Even those that have horrible eating habits are reasonable weights if they run and play as children should. I'm not saying I think it is okay to stuff your kids with junk as long as you make sure they work it off...just that it takes a lot more than poor eating habits to create an obese child.

I'm not at all offended by the ads. However, I don't think they will be particulaly effective. With that said, I'm all for anything that calls attention to the fact that overweight children are a health concern for all of us.

01-31-2007, 08:30 PM
The common denominator that exists for all of the overweight children that I know is that they do not actively play on a regular basis. They sit, watch TV, play video games, etc. Even those that have horrible eating habits are reasonable weights if they run and play as children should. I'm not saying I think it is okay to stuff your kids with junk as long as you make sure they work it off...just that it takes a lot more than poor eating habits to create an obese child.

This wasn't my experience. I played outside every day and also did swimming and figure skating for years and was off-and-on with other activities like gymnastics and raquetball. I also did outdoor stuff with my family like hiking and canoeing. Ironically what eventually made me stop doing a lot of these activities was being overweight, like being embarassed to wear a bathing suit and feeling physically awkward. I definitely did gain even more weight when I quit doing this stuff but it IS definitely possible to be a very active yet overweight child when you're still taking in more calories than you're burning.

In terms of these billboard ads.. just to add another perspective.. they might be targeted at adults but kids are gonna see them, of course. I know something has to be done to make kids healthier but I know that as a kid if I had seen something like that it would have made me feel even more terrible about myself and given thin kids another reason to bully me.

01-31-2007, 09:21 PM
I remember sitting outside the school one day, waiting to pick up my daughter. I was absolutely amazed at the number of overweight children! We teach our children the dangers of alcohol, drugs, sex without protection, talking to strangers...etc, etc, etc. But, how many parent really realize that fat children can lead to fat adults with all of the negative health issues to go with the fat. It is not just an appearance issue. How many times did everyone tell me that my 25 lb overweight 10 year old daughter would just "grow" out of her "baby" fat? One day, I realized that my daughter was in the kitchen looking for something to eat...30 minutes after dinner. I also realized that she had just been scolded for something she did. During the summer, when bored, she was in the kitchen constantly. It became clear to me that she had picked up my bad habits...eating to satisfy her emotions and eating out of boredom.

So, the billboards may not be the most effective as far advertising goes....afterall..they only have a $250,000.00 budget :) But, it sure has gotten people talking about childhood obesity around there...and thats a very good thing.

01-31-2007, 09:29 PM
For those of you who are against the billboards, what do you think we should do instead? Support groups, classes, ??

01-31-2007, 11:36 PM
I completely agree with futuresurferchick that's it's just another way for kids to make fun of "the fat kids," too. I know when I was the fat kid growing up, I obviously had issues with food, and other kids making fun of me would just drive me right into the arms of more food for comfort. I can hear it now in gym class..."haha, your ankles look like the ones on that kid on the BILLBOARD!"

I just think a giant sign that basically just says "fat = unhealthy" is not particularly helpful to anyone. No one wants to be fat or to have fat chiclren--we already know it's both unhealthy and socially crippling, particularly for children. But what these parents need is ways to overcome the excuses. They say they don't have enough time, that their kids refuse to eat/don't like healthy foods, that it's just baby fat and they'll outgrow it (that was my mother's excuse for me until I was at least 16 years old), etc. They need to be shown that you can make healthier versions of foods kids love, like cheeseburgers (turkey or very lean beef burgers w/reduced fat cheese on wheat buns), pizza (whole-wheat crust with no salt added sauce, reduced fat cheese, and fruit/veggie toppings instead of just fatty meats), french fries (make your own with little oil and baking instead of frying), etc.

I think it's also not appropriate to single out the children who are already overweight. Plenty of parents feed even healthy-weight children tons of junk food simply because if the kid isn't fat, then they think it's okay. Well, the truth is, you're only setting that child up to become obese later in life, and honestly, is that any better? Regardless of a child's current weight, parents need to take the responsibility to instil good eating habits.

The information is already out there on government and private websites, in parenting books and magazines, in local libraries, etc. They even run ads on tv during kids' shows about the importance of good nutrition and exercise (I've seen such commercials on both Nickelodeon and The Cartoon Network). The parents have access to the information already--whether they choose to actually use that information is what's important. And a billboard that says "fat = bad" isn't going to make them any more likely to seek out that information since that's something they already know.

What could they spend that budget on instead of these billboards? How about using the billboards to direct parents to websites featuring healthy kid-friendly recipes (or even make their own website)? I don't think a billboard in itself is a bad idea since it's difficult to provide information by other means that involve directly contacting parents and asking if or telling them that their child is overweight, which can be embarassing to both parent and child. But pointing out the problem on a billboard won't help--pointing to resources for a solution would make more sense to me.

01-31-2007, 11:43 PM
I don't know that I'm against the billboards, I just don't see them doing any good. Educating kids and parents is great, but how do you do it. Making nutrition and exercise classes and support groups available through hospitals and such is a great idea (but many are already available, and you can't force people to go). Education in the schools is great, but since theories on nutrition and weight control are by no means unified in their advice, whose theories do we teach?

Video games would be a great tool to solve some of the problem they've created. Wii and Dance Dance Revolution and more game systems and games that involve exercize may help. More edutainment programs on tv (but again how do you get people to watch). Fast food restaurants are getting better, but many of them have had to remove the healthy choices they've added because people don't buy them.

As with any complex problem, the solution has to be just as complex.

02-01-2007, 04:14 AM
Theres some billboards popping up on the UK too. One the way to work we pass one that says "an obese child will die around 55. This will take away the pensions crisis."

Shock tactics I suppose they are thinking. But its not nice.

02-01-2007, 04:31 AM
I think that doctors need to do a better job of talking with parents about overweight children. It's a health risk and should be something the family's doctor aids them in, not a billboard.

I also think that schools are probably not doing enough as far as serving nutritous food. It should not be a choice between junk and good for you food. It should be mandatory one school lunch with no choices as it is here in japan. My school has 518 students and 2 of them are overweight.

Fast food and processed food should be limited at home and if schools aren't serving them the childs access to these would greatly be reduced. My town has no fast food restaurants (it has no restaurants period) and the grocery is small and doesnt sell alot of processed foods. I think these are a major problem in childhood obesity.

02-01-2007, 07:11 AM
I also think that schools are probably not doing enough as far as serving nutritous food.
Excellent point. When I was in middle and high school, I almost never ate a healthy lunch. You can tell a kid not to eat junk until you're blue in the face, but if s/he wants it, it's certainly easily available. I would always have a nice healthy lunch of a chocolate milk and some Swiss Rolls (chocolate snack cakes with creme filling). Why? It was cheaper, yummier, and easier than getting the full lunch. Not that the full lunch was any better--super cheesy pizza, greasy cheeseburgers, "brunch for lunch" (piles of pancakes or french toast covered in butter and syrup), etc. They didn't offer salads as an entree, but you could get a "side salad" with your meal if you wanted. This side salad was some iceberg lettuce out of a bag with 2 slices of carrot in a plastic cup the same size as the plastic cups use for the jell-o desserts (so maybe 3/4 cup if you fill it more than with the jell-o). Oh, and packets of full-fat Italian dressing were the only dressing option.

The point is, kids will be kids. Here on 3FC, I read EVERY DAY about people not being able to resist temptation, particularly in scenarios where there is a lot of junk around such as family gatherings and parties. Well, in a school cafeteria, all of a kid's friends are around, and there's all this cheap and yummy junk food to choose from, so how can we expect our children to resist these temptations when even WE, as educated, intelligent, mature adults, can't resist them ourselves?

Like I said, I understand what these billboards are trying to accomplish, but unfortunately, even an infinite number of billboards isn't going to change society, which is the real problem.

Mrs Quadcrew
02-01-2007, 10:18 AM
My thoughts on the billboards were that it is just going to cause the children that are overweight more ANGST. I can see it being a very sad scenario for some of them. (Are you the new model for the billboards??) Very BAD idea, IMO.

Unfortunately, I wish I had the answer as to how to address it. I think the school is a good starting point. You are not going to change Mom & Dad's mind very easily - but if you work on the child, you may have a chance. Get the cafeteria's to offer only healthy options - and make it FUN. TEACH healthy eating choices in the classroom. The Grocery stores that hand out "free cookies" for the little ones, ask them to hand out fresh fruit or healthy options instead. It is going to be a hard battle to win, and we all know that.

02-01-2007, 11:16 AM
Just another story along these lines that was in the news here a week or so ago was a Massachusetts school who actually sent letters home to parents informing them that their children were overweight and at risk for obesity and weight related health issues. The controversy there seemed to be that these letters weren't mailed to parents, but sent home in the hands of these 'at risk' children.

I can't say I know how I feel about them, I can't say I pay much attention to billboards at all in the first place but I do agree from a marketing prospective that they are badly formated. Truthfully if I hadn't seen it on the news I probably wouldn't have known what they were for because they are so hard to read. Am I offended by them or think they are morally wrong, no... but I do agree that there has to be a better way educate the community.

02-01-2007, 03:13 PM
advertising to children is going to create even more childhood eating disorders. little kids are going to become anorexic, hopefully not bulemic :( these billboards should be pointed at the adults more than the children.

02-01-2007, 03:50 PM
Some schools are banning peanut butter (because of the potential effects on children so allergic that smelling peanut butter causes a sever life-threatening reaction), and yet sweet drinks and sodas, deep fried foods, sweet gooey desserts, and chips are not only available, they're often part of the school's "hot lunch."

Schools often use faculty and student vending machines as a siginificant source of revenue.

I think the biggest part of the problem is the availability of foods much higher in fat and calories than they are in nutrition. The number of fast food choices and "snack" foods available have skyrocketed. In a society based on freedom and free-will, is it right to legally limit people's choices? What would be the effect now that it's been introduced anyway, black market Doritos?

02-01-2007, 03:52 PM
By the way, I don't mean that we shouldn't limit children's choices. As adults we have a responsibility to do so. Schools should be setting the best example (although should we take the next step and decide what parents can send their children to school with? I'm not sure on that one). I just don't think passing laws against food products or against restaurants serving particular foods would work.

02-01-2007, 04:53 PM
Too many kids are over weight,,,,how many families do you see the Dad is 300+, Mom 200+ and children obese....its SAD...even though i was alway heavy my son and husband were alway eating good food....i was he black sheep..

02-01-2007, 11:22 PM
I don't know yet what I think about the bill boards... but I do know that we need to educate our children and parents. I work in an elementary school. I don't know about in your area, but here the schools are not allowed to serve high fat, sugar filled foods at lunch. In fact, even the snacks that the kids are allowed to bring to school are limited... is this needed? yes. Now, are the lunches perfectly nutrious? No... we still have pizza... and such... but the schools do not have fryers...so fries and such are baked... there is always a fruit and salad available, the main entree and then a side. Sandwiches are on white wheat bread. Occasionally, they get single servings (1/2 cup) of lowfat ice cream or sherbert- that is maybe once a month.... today's menu was salad, pineapple, baked corndogs, chili, 1/2 baked potato (plain) and brocoli. Perfect nutrition? no... but the kids are offered new things... last week, they had kiwi. Some tried it and like it, others did tried it and didn't like it... some didn't try it... they are kids! the milk is all lowfat or no fat, and oj.

Is there a vending machine? yes, it's in a storage room only for teachers and staff to get to.

We are limited to what we can do for class parties... I think part of the education is to teach kids that to have that treat once in a while and to learn portions is important too... if we forbid a food, then they will want it that much more... I know that is true of me... if I forbid chocolate, rather than a piece of chocolate, I will go buy a huge bag and eat it all.

do we need to do more? yes... but it's a start

I work in 1st grade and we have a child that is probably 40 inches tall and
200 pounds? she's as big around as tall. She tells us she watches tv in bed with her mom eating ice cream and candy. This child, 6 or 7 years old, has diabeties, high blood pressure and other meds. When her teacher asked her dad about special diet etc, he said he gives her what she wants- parents have separated this year. It breaks my heart to watch this child. It's not what she eats at school...it's outside of school. Yes, we need to educate the children, but the parents need the education as much if not more. They are the ones that buy the groceries at home....

off my soap box now...