Obesity in marketing : Is it assisting in the fight against Obesity?

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On October 4, USA Today published an short article highlighting television ads from us business putting obese people in the spotlight. Subway, Nike as well as Blue cross are among the business featuring overweight people in their recent advertisements. Two-thirds of adults in America are overweight or obese.  The advertisements are meant to modification consumers’ behaviors.  Are they truly working?

The healthy mothers magazine asked Eliza Kingsford, licensed psychotherapist, weight administration as well as body picture director of medical services at Wellspring, which holds a number of weight loss facilities around the country that assist kids, adults as well as households discover a healthier method of living  with behavioral modification to share her know-how as well as viewpoint on these recent advertisements.  

Why do you believe advertisers are putting obese people “under the spotlight” in their ad campaigns?

Eliza : I believe with the growing understanding of the obesity epidemic, advertisers are utilizing obese people in the spotlight for shock value. I don’t feel like many advertisers are especially concerned for their subjects, as well as will for that reason utilize techniques such as shaming or shock to get the interest of their meant audience. They seem to be operating under the assumption that pity as well as shock value will get people to pay much more interest to what they are selling. as well as while this may be true, people will pay interest to those ads, ones that criticize, blame, ridicule as well as dehumanize the obese population, it will refrain from doing anything to modification the habits of people having a hard time with obesity. Recently, one city had an ad portraying two persons suffering from obesity as “beached whales”. The ad gathered a great deal of attention, albeit mainly negative, however nonetheless people discovered it. later the ad was taken down as well as replaced with something somewhat less offensive. However, I can’t assist however question if the advertisers felt like the original ad did its task by eliciting such a response. I have to concern if advertisers care about the effect or impact of their ads, as well as not just whether or not people see them. What we understand is that calling a person who is obese a “beached whale” does not all of a sudden make them look at themselves in a different way as well as modification their behavior. The large majority of people having a hard time with obesity understand they are obese, they don’t requirement or want to see an ad shaming them for their struggles.

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Do you believe this will assist much more people ended up being conscious of the obesity epidemic in the us as well as make way of life modifications or do you believe it will just make obesity a bigger problem?

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Eliza: I am in favor of much more people ending up being conscious of just exactly how harmful this epidemic of obesity has ended up being as well as the drastic steps it will take to reverse the trajectory of obesity. However, studies have shown that ads shaming, ridiculing as well as dehumanizing people suffering from obesity do not have a positive impact on their behavior. In fact, the opposite can be true. In one research study of randomly assigned Americans, people discovered these marketing messages confusing, stigmatizing, inappropriate, vague as well as pointless (Puhl, Peterson, Luedicke, 2012 Int J Obesity). Do we requirement to get the message out? Ja. However, we likewise requirement these messages to be effective. If they are not efficient we are just contributing to the issue of weight bias as well as crippling an obese neighborhood who may be searching for help.

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Ads that include only parts of a person’s body, such as just their backside or only their tummy are dehumanizing. We have seen these ads before, numerous times with women, however now they are being utilized with the obese population. ads like these eliminate dignity as well as humanization from a person as well as depict them as only parts of a whole. Often, ads targeting obesity will depict the overweight person according to present stigmas (overeating, being “lazy”, using clothes that are as well tight as well as unbecoming). These kinds of ads are shaming as well as do not have efficient outcomes. I am not against ads utilizing much more overweight people in them, besides with two thirds of our present population of adults being overweight or obese this is a much better representation of what our country truly looks like. However, I am not in favor of advertising that dehumanizes or shames a particular population into altering behavior.

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 Do you believe that much more business ought to put out advertisements like train as well as Nike or is there a much better method to get the message out?

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Eliza: There are conscientious advertisers available putting out positive ads aimed at inspiring others to be healthy. Nike just recently put out an ad of a young guy out for a run, Nathan. He was running sluggish as well as stable at his own speed as well as it was clear, to me, that he was taking steps in his journey towards a healthy lifestyle. The messaging from Nike was about anybody being able to get up as well as get those very first steps in, that Nike gear (any sports gear for that matter) is not just for the elite athlete, the “skinny” girl, the “muscular ” Mann. That anybody can accomplish greatness. I was personally influenced by this ad as well as appreciated seeing a young guy that looked similar to the youth I treat every day, available just trying to do the very best he can to be healthy.

There was some debate around this ad, declaring that it was exploitation of an overweight teen. That Nike utilized him to increase sales. Also, that it appeared like Nathan was miserable as well as breathing as well heavily during his workout. Yes, he was breathing heavily, however in my view he was breathing heavy since he was working at a level that was challenging for him. I would suggest that a number of people look somewhat miserable or “in pain” when they are working out hard. I don’t feel like his pleasure of the workout had anything to finish with the message in the ad. Also, don’t all advertisers utilize their subjects to increase sales? Why does nobody get upset when the subject is a 25 year old female with 15% body fat, which, by the way, is representative of an incredibly little portion of our population? Is it because, as a society, she is thought about much more desirable to look at? Nathan, on the other hand, is representative of 25% of America’s population of teens, many of whom requirement to discover some motivation to get available as well as get much more exercise. however since we are not utilized to seeing Nathan on TV, not utilized to seeing overweight or obese individuals on TV, it becomes a topic of discussion as well as dispute. I suggest that is what is wrong, not the ad, however that we would discover the requirement to single it out as well as argument about it since he is overweight.

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Ads from conscientious marketers can be inspiring as well as can assist cultivate change. Such ads would include things like an inspiring message, the story of a whole person (their face, their journey, their success), as well as something to provide the meant audience hope. To me, the message right here is that shaming is not an efficient method to bring about change. We want to bring much more understanding to the epidemic of obesity, however in a method that will efficiently reach audiences without shame, ridicule or dehumanization.

 Eliza Kingsford, MA, LPC, is the director of medical services for Wellspring, America’s leading supplier of weight-loss camps as well as residential treatment programs for overweight young people, families, as well as adults. For much more information  see

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