The "Stop Sugarcoating" campaign developed to address childhood obesity sends several dangerous messages to both children and adults. It shames children who are larger, reinforces social prejudices around size by encouraging weight stigma, and rather than focusing on healthy behaviors it uses bullying style advertising to encourage kids to diet and exercise. In short, the campaign traumatizes children struggling with their own feelings about size and may even reinforce their use of food as a coping mechanism. See the campaign here: http://strong4life.com/#
Public bullying of kids and adults because of size is not acceptable. The campaign does not consider that kids of all sizes are susceptible to eating disorders, which have the highest rates of mortality with regard to mental health illnesses. Public shaming is archaeic, dangerous, and inexcusable. Weight stigma is extremely damaging and studies show it actually lends to increased weight. The public health officials who designed this campaign should be embarrassed and do everything they can to stop this campaign. They also owe an apology to the citizens of Georgia and the entire country. The Binge Eating Disorder Association (BEDA) sponsors the National Weight Stigma Awareness Week yearly during the last week of September. We encourage public officials and others to read the information provided about weight stigma on our website at http://www.bedaonline.com/2011WSAW/index.html. We also encourage them to consider the risk/benefits of the campaign they have designed. We ask you, CHOA, to stop sugarcoating your weight stigma, call a spade a spade, and do the right thing.