Scare Tactics or Facts? New Ad Campaign Against Obesity in UK

Did the Department of Health in the UK try to scare mothers from giving their children sweets? The agency recently spent 500,000 pounds to place two adverts in women’s weekly magazines that made treats look like a demon meal.
The ads are part of a £75 million program to help slim the public’s waistline. It now has critics throughout the country including the National Obesity Forum.

Mothers are objecting to the message that giving their children a treat now and then is leading their young to a premature death.

The Taxpayers Alliance isn’t thrilled about the spots either. They are saying that people are not happy that the government is using their hard owned tax dollars to bash them about the way they live their lives.

The Telegraph reports:

Tam Fry, from the National Obesity Forum described the initiative as sending out “an absolutely ludicrous message”.

“The idea that a cupcake will kill you is totally over the top, and for that reason the whole thing is totally counterproductive.

“Obviously cakes have to be an occasional treat, but the idea that a healthy child eating a cupcake at a party is dicing with death is absolutely crazy. Parents will switch off,” he said.

The Department of Health has reason though to target mothers with their ads.

The Guardian reports:

“Early signs show that we may be halting the rise in childhood obesity,” said the public health minister, Dawn Primarolo. “But there’s still more to do in particular to tackle obesity in adults.

“More than 60% of adults in England are overweight or obese, leaving them at increased risk of type two diabetes, cancer, heart and liver disease.”

The truth is that the UK is in an obesity crisis and the young will be paying the ultimate costs later on. With many parents in denial about the health risks that their children’s waistlines can pose there may have to be drastic steps taken. Obesity in the UK is increasing. In 2006 almost 30 percent of children under the age of 16 were classed as obese or overweight. The adults are doing even worse, 67 per cent of men and 56 per cent of women were listed as overweight or obese.

A government survey found that many of the 1,200 parents questioned were in denial about their children being overweight.

The Change4Life campaign has been in full swing since the beginning of the year.

Food Navigator reports:

“We have already made progress on things like labeling and fat and salt content working with the industry. But … if this three-year campaign does not succeed, we don’t rule out regulating in future,” health minister Ben Bradshaw is quoted as saying.

The Department of Health is backing their campaign saying that its based on extensive research. A spokesman said that the ads are not using scare tactics just “straightforward language” and pointed out that obesity costs the NHS £4.2 billion a year. The ads are being backed by Diabetes UK, Cancer Research UK and The British Heart Foundation.

BBC reports:

Health Secretary Alan Johnson said: “The message that we received from parents was clear – we recognize that obesity is a big problem, but it’s not our problem.”

Studies also show that parents are having a hard time understanding all of the literature and information that is being handed them about feeding their children in a healthy manner.

With a more fast paced life style convenience foods are becoming the norm. Britain’s consumption of ready made meals is doubling that of France and six times higher than Spain. It could be to due with the fact that 80% of homes in the UK have a microwave while other European homes don’t have the appliance as often.

Kids in the UK are consuming an increasing about of soft drinks, crisps and savory snacks, fast food and pre-sugared breakfast cereals. Research suggests that while many mothers think they know what a healthy diet is, they are at a loss as to how to make this attractive to their children.


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