As childhood obesity rates in countries across the world continue to soar, many organizations have launched media campaigns to tackle the issue.
The question is, are they working? Or are they making things worse?
Dr. Peter Nieman has been a pediatrician specializing in childhood obesity for over 25 years.
He says media campaigns can be helpful, but only if done right.
“People are intelligent, they know they’re busy, they know what they should be doing, they know they’re not doing the right thing,” says Nieman.
Some campaigns, like one in Minnesota, use shame to motivate parents to set a better example for their kids:
Nieman says guilt is a particularly dangerous tactic to use, because instead of fixing the problem it is more likely to make it worse, especially for kids.
“It doesn’t matter what campaign is around. It doesn’t matter what clinic is around. If a kid is hurting inside, and eats for emotional reasons, no campaign is going to cure that,” says Nieman.
He says commercials like Canada’s ‘Participaction’ campaign are a good example of what works:
Nieman says the Participaction campaign contains a positive message, with no shock and no shame.