Health

Israeli Childhood Obesity Ad Campaign Sparks Outrage: ‘When Your Child Gets Fat, His Smile Shrinks’

| by Sarah Fruchtnicht

An ad campaign against childhood obesity has sparked outrage from those who believe the ads publicly insult and fat-shame children.

The billboards, the brainchild of local agencies and Paris-based agency JCDecaux, feature Photoshopped images of obese children, TheBlaze reported.

One billboard image of an obese boy’s torso has a nose drawn it, so as to looking like a frowning face. The text below it says, “Most cases of depression among children are tied to their appearance. Parents! Help your children be happy.”

“When your child gets fat, his smile shrinks,” reads the billboard pictured above.

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Another ad shows an illustration of a see-saw with one child holding three other up in the air. “1 out of 4 children in Israel suffers from obesity,” it says.

Celebrity chef Haim Cohen, the star of the Israeli verson of “MasterChef,” spoke out against the campaign calling the creators “criminal.”

“There’s not a diet I haven’t tried (I think there isn’t)…but with none could I ‘marry’ or live together in a relationship and I always broke up with them using the well-known sentence ‘It’s not you. It’s me,’” Cohen admitted on Facebook.

“The war against fat begins at a young age,” said the host of one of Israel’s top-rated TV shows. “No doubt kids today understand that fat is not healthy, not attractive, not acceptable. Obviously treating childhood obesity is important, and starts inside the home and education in the surroundings. But one thing that shouldn’t be, that is to make children feel like they are ugly, that they are pitiful. And the one who created this ad is a criminal and in my opinion cynical.”

Childhood obesity rates in Israel are nearing American rates. According to a recent study, 17 percent of Israeli children are overweight.

“The campaign lacks compassion and therefore promotes shame and guilt,” wrote Israeli blogger Sharona Reouven. “I can’t help but wonder what happened to the people behind this campaign that turned them so apathetic about the feelings of others.”

A spoof of the ad posted online said, “When a copywriter is an idiot, his mind shrinks.”

The subtitle reads: “Three out of four copywriters in Israel suffer from surplus stupidity.”

“We regret the feelings of some of the public towards the campaign," the advertiser said in a statement. "The purpose is not to cause discomfort or ridicule towards children but rather to convey the importance of the message and to raise awareness about health and the implications of obesity among children."

Sources: TheBlaze, Tablet Mag