Public Debate Over a Controversial Childhood Obesity Campaign

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Approximately one-third of adults and 17 percent of children in the U.S. are obese. While this public health crisis has spawned a billion dollar diet industry, reality shows dedicated to weight loss, and the First Lady's "Let's Move" program, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta didn’t think these were enough to discourage children from making unhealthy choices. The hospital launched a billboard and digital campaign featuring obese children with derogatory narration and captions. The ads are powerful, but they’ve also been criticized for stigmatizing overweight children.

Dr. Mark Wulkan is surgeon-in-chief at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, who served as a consultant on the ads. Abby Ellin is the author of “Teenage Waistland: A former fat kid weighs in on living large, losing weight, and how parents can (and can’t) help.”