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Will a fat Barbie or Superman send the right message to fight childhood obesity?

Posted on Feb 20, 2009 by Maggie LaBarbera

There was mixed responses from a bold move created by the Active Life Movement: Barbie .  This is a wonderful organization that is committed promoting healthy living.

In their fight against childhood obesity, they attempted to send a strong message to children and parents with several ads that portrayed Barbie and Superman as overweight.

  • One ad shows a very overweight Barbie relaxing in her bed, with a laptop and empty cartons of food and soda cans laying around her.
  • Another ad displays a pudgy Superman sitting on a chair, eating ice cream and watching TV.
  • The tagline for the campaign is "Keep obesity away from your child"

I understand that given the current percentage of overweight and obese children in our nation, organizations may feel drastic action is needed.

But my concern is that we are drawing too much attention to how a child looks.

This kind of approach is too focused on body image and taking a very negative approach in trying to shame kids and/or parents into compliance. I also am concerned that we are missing the fact that over 80% of our children don't eat a balanced diet, are low in calcium and iron, and are not eating enough vegetables and fruits regardless of their weight.

Eating healthy and being active is something that all children need to learn. By keeping it positive and fun, we help children enjoy learning about nutrition.  Blaming, shaming and negative coaching is the very thing that gives nutrition a bad rap.

We all shy away from things that make us feel bad.  So I encourage us to face this problem head on with patience, support and fun association to healthy eating.  Help kids hear the word "healthy", "nutrition", "exercise" and think "fun, something I enjoy learning about, something I have fun doing!"

What do you think about this type of approach in addressing childhood obesity?




Friday, Aug 14, 2009 @ 09:02 AM

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this is very valuable for me. Thank you very much. Keep wrtting more!
Saturday, Oct 17, 2009 @ 08:54 AM

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Just added my own blog this month. I need some inspiration. Thx.
Saturday, Nov 21, 2009 @ 02:49 PM

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what a great blog and nutrition education program! Really good facts and simple practical ideas to help kids eat healthier - the approach is to keep it fun and positive. I agree with you, shaming, blaming and negative actions will not help overweight kids , you're approach is very family and child friendly thanks for the blog, website and fun healthy games for kids
Thursday, Dec 10, 2009 @ 01:19 AM

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I searched Google and come across this post and blog. I love your games and will continue to look out for your nutrition articles in the future
Friday, Feb 12, 2010 @ 08:44 AM

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Interesting read. However, as a long time follower and supporter of ACTIVE Life, formerly known as Youth Interactive, I must inform you and your followers that these pictures are not at all representative of the ACTIVE Life Movement. They were created by LatinWorks, a group in Austin, but do not represent the ACTIVE Life's mission. Had you taken the time to look at their website, you'd have known that. At one point you say, "Blaming, shaming and negative coaching is the very thing that gives nutrition a bad rap." I think it's unfair to suggest that these are the tactics that the ACTIVE Life Movement uses to help our culture's health crisis. It's clear to me that you didn't really do your research about the organization. If you did, you'd see that the ads you refer to can't even be found on their website. I appreciate your passion and concern for our country's health crisis, because it's extremely serious. However, I think it's irresponsible to write a blog that wrongly portrays the approach of an incredible organization. No where do you mention the literally thousands of students and parents that are positively affected by their after school programs and curriculum. I encourage all of you to visit

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