Health Agency in Hot Water for ‘Shopping a Little Girl to Look Obese for an Ad


The California government health agency First 5 was created to help “nurture and protect our most precious resource — our children.” As such, one of their programs aims to stop childhood obesity by reaching out to parents and educating them about proper nutrition.

The agency’s recent poster meant to show the dangers of sugary drinks, however, seems to have gone a bit too far, using Photoshop to make a healthy child look obese and drawing the ire of the public in the process.

In the image at the top, the original photo from First 5’s website is on the left, with the poster image now found all over California on the right. The two were placed side by side by author Marilyn Wann, who wrote the book “FAT!SO? : Because You Don’t Have to Apologize for Your Size” and believes in a Health at Every Size approach.


Wann put together the side-by-side comparison and posted it on her Facebook and Tumblr alongside the message that “children deserve to be protected from this kind of damaging fearmongering. (And from creepy Photoshopping!).” Other sources are calling this technique “fat shaming,” and pointing out that this approach has never proved effective in battling obesity.

For their part, First 5 still believes they’re doing the right thing. Speaking with MSN, First 5 spokeswoman Lindsay Van Laningham explains that the ad “was intended to show parents the real-life consequences of obesity and what sugar can do to our children’s lives.”

(via Huffington Post via Fstoppers)

  • nerdbomber

    Lesson learned… just start off with a fat kid. No need for photoshop then.

  • bob cooley

    I think it would make more sense to direct our anger at companies that advertise and promote filing kids with sugar (especially in the form of high-fructose corn syrup) over an ad that is trying to point out the problem..

  • Kay O. Sweaver

    Obesity is only one of the many health problems associated with high sugar diets. Some scientists are even going so far as to classify it as a toxin.

  • Mike

    But the fat ones cost more.

  • Grokular

    Wait, so her objection isn’t really that the kid was shopped to look plump, but that they are using a picture of a plump kid to point out that sugar is unhealthy for children?

    The fat acceptance movement really is ridiculous.

  • Eugene Chok

    what it does in the liver certainly indicates it is a toxin

  • peaceetc

    Isn’t it ironic they use something so fake to show “real-life consequences”? The ‘shopped image doesn’t even look real, so who would take it seriously?

  • beautox

    Rubbish; the body runs on sugar. They are saying that sugar is “a chemical that becomes toxic in excess”.

    So that puts it in the same category as Vitamin D and Vitamin A and many many other things. So what?

  • Spongebob Nopants

    What does the diabetes acceptance lobby say about this? I’m sure they’re all up in (not yet amputated) arms over this.

  • Michael D

    Government murdering children in Pakistan with drones: no problem. Government making kid look fat in photo: revolution.

  • Sum_it

    My toxicology professor started his class by saying “Many xenobiotics can be therapeutic, however, depending on the level of exposure, almost every single thing on this planet can be toxic”

  • awwwwwwww, poor marco

    far out, its not like there is a shortage of fat kids in most western countries these days, haha

  • Guest

    “Of course too much is bad for you. That’s why it’s called TOO MUCH.”