Video: Are these new ads unfair to overweight parents?

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11:00 Blue Cross Blue Shield raised eyebrows with its new anti-obesity ads that show children modeling unhealthy behavior of their overweight parents.

Watch the videos. Do they lay too much blame for children’s weight problems on parents?

–Stephanie Curtis, social media host

  • Erik

    I don’t think so. I don’t see a message of “you’re bad because you’re fat” or “it’s your fault you’re fat”. what it see are ficitonal people in a moment of realization that their choices and behaviors affect their children’s choices and behaviors. what’s unfair about that?

  • Virginia

    I think they are just using stereotypes of people. Not done fairly.

  • Meggan Ellingboe, The Daily Circuit
  • John P.

    I used to be a lot heavier and watch what I do every day to keep things under control.

    I find these ads and the “I’ll take the stairs … Tomorrow” ads insulting and demoralizing. What people need is help and encouragement, not humiliation. It feels like bullying.

  • Michelle

    I think that we do a lot of fingerpointing in our society instead of trying to help individuals solve challenges. This may cause a small number of people to have that “ah-ha” moment, but I think there will be a significant number that will be offended. Where’s the help instead of the blame?

  • Lexi

    No, I do not think these commercials are unfair. No one is responsible for teaching about eating habits and nutrition except for us as parents. Just as we must discourage our kids from using drugs, smoking, underage drinking and other risky behavior. It is not up to schools, the government, or anyone else (while I am glad that these organizations step up when a good role model is not available at home).

    It is one thing if a parent chooses to eat unhealthy and become overweight – but please don’t also make that choice for your child. Generally the child is not in control of what food is served to them at home.

  • PennyL

    Having a son who has struggled his entire life with obesity and neither his father or I were overweight I find these commercials upsetting. Having been accused of feeding my son twinkies and milk shakes when I took him to the pediatrician multiple times, that is not always the solution. I agree with the above poster that these commercials border on bullying. I would much prefer and upbeat positive spin on exercise and nutrition.

  • Kyle Wilson

    I don’t see anything inappropriate with these ads. Childhood obesity is quickly becoming a pervasive problem in our society and it is the responsibility of the parents to teach reasonable eating habits. I think there is a fair share of parents that overlook what they are feeding their children, and these ads are meant to help parents come to that realization.

  • Philip Scott

    Since January I’ve focused on my diet, exercising and losing weight and have found that it takes focus and diligence to obtain and now maintain the goals I’ve achieved. It isn’t easy and at times has been very hard.

    I’ve seen these ads and I ‘get’ the joke and I think the ads are great. But I can’t say everyone will understand them or at least take action. Additionally, I believe the food industry has created a culture of over consumption focused on sales and profit.

    The science of nutrition is based on old and incorrect science and which is being out-lobbied by industry at the federal level. There may be a battle between the insurance industry and the food industry, or at least insurance rates will rise as costs of treating obese individuals.


  • Charlene Jaszewski

    The only public service ads that have worked for me in my battle against sugary goodies is one I saw (or an article maybe) saying that too much sugar consumption adversely affects your intelligence. While unpleasant, I can deal with being overweight, but I do NOT want to lose my smarts. 🙂

  • No doubt obesity and childhood obesity needs to be addressed but as someone who struggled with obesity I want to see ad campaigns, PSA’s etc. that give share clear, easy, immediately do-able, positive steps that would improve my health and my families health. How about messages like “Eating with your family models healthy behaviors and portion size” or non judgmental facts “One 20-ounce soda a day amounts to over 100,000 calories a year – an extra 28 pounds of weight” “You can burn 200 calories with 20 minutes of jump rope.” Solutions versus shame.

  • Erika

    These actually made me cry. I try so hard everyday to make sure that my children do not end up heavy and miserable like me. But its not just me who needs to set the example! Parents need support from care providers, schools, and childrens television networks. From what they have available that is healthy, educate on what is healthy and tastes good (because lets be honest if it does not taste good you wont eat it), and what and how many ads are presented to children. It’s not only the food issue, its getting out and moving around. Again, support would be most helpful. Go outside and play during the day and have a PE hour required in school. I can only do so much myself. This is not just a shame on you parents for being fat and letting your kids get fat. Its much much more complicated than that.

  • John

    I see guilt NOT shame in these commercials – big difference.

    In my opinion, shame is directed at the person – i.e he/she is a bad person, guilt is more focused on the choice or the thing being done – which is more empowering as you can make better decisions etc.

  • Barbara Breuer

    I think these adds have there place, Some people need to get, fit in the face , with it. As a person who is over wait, I was not affended, and I get what they were trying to say.

    the sad part is that most Americans think things are a great idea untill they themselves have to deal with it. Look at school lunches, People think that kids need to eat better, but when it came time for their school to eat better, they don’t like it.

  • Jeff

    While not all obesity issues are due to over-eating, I don’t think these commercials are unfair. Children model their parents and it takes a lot of education and self realization to break the cycles (look at alcoholism, spousal abuse, etc)

    I see, particularly the grocery shopping commercial example, all the time when I shop at the Cub in Midway. Overweight parents piling on the grocery belt sugary foods and boxed foods with no fresh produce.

    Now, this speaks to the socio-economics. Which is a large issue within the obesity problems. There needs to be a concerted effort, for poor and rich, on how to feed yourself again with fresh food. For far too many decades we have accepted quick and easy, but fatty and high salt boxed and frozen foods.

    We also need to enhance our social programs (ie WIC) and get the food industry out of these programs (ie the farm bill). I believe you can now buy fresh product with WIC, but more education is needed as well as people need to take responsibility for themselves, poor or rich.

  • Molly

    Obviously, BCBS has not done their research on eating disorders. I believe this push on obesity and the shame it places on kids is going to cause many serious consequences including an increase in eating disorders. Shame does not work. When has shame ever worked on affecting a person to make positive changes?

  • Melonie

    My husband is a Doctor (Internal Medicine) at a local hospital and sees the severity of the obesity issue 1st hand. We were thrilled when these ads aired. Yes, eating & living healthy is hard-work but it is worth the effort.

  • Barbara Breuer

    Look at the people on TV, people onTV shows the fat guy as the funny guy, But if you want to work on TV you have to be skinny.

    The sad part is the bad food is cheap food. as someone not working, I can’t afford good food.

  • sarah

    I think that the ads show a reality that parents may be in denial about and how influencial they really are in their children’s lives. I think parents do need to take a proactive approach in living a healthy lifestyle such as finding places, organizations, support goups, family and friends, in how to lead healthy lifestyles. We are now coming from a reactive approach to obesity and all individuals need so take the control back to live a long and healthy life.

  • Kathy Derong

    I’ve struggled with my weight for nearly 20 years. My doctor sent me to a nutritionist, who helped me develop a plan for eating healthier and changing my behavior. It’s working, but I won’t be following up with her. Why? My insurance won’t cover nutrition counseling. That makes no sense to me.

  • Melissa U


    I have seen the ads. I pretty much ignored them. I thought they were designed to make people feel badly and I do not believe the ads are going to help people change their behavior.

    However, the previous BCBS ads with the catch line, “Do” with the people dancing in an effort to encourage activity where MUCH BETTER. As I am typing, I am thinking of several of those ads, esp the one with the nerdy man dancing in the waiting room and the lady behind the desk totally getting into it. That was a good ad, memorable, and with a message that one does NOT need to go to a formal exercise class to get benefits from daily exercise. One can walk, dance, garden, etc, etc.

    And, btw, my kids LOVE those ads! They laugh and dance to them.

    Further, the most helpful ads are the ones who give little tips on ways to include healthy choices in our busy lives.

    And, btw, do anyone read the CNN article about the study which links lack of sleep with insulin resistance and obesity?? Hmmmm

  • Richard

    My family members and friends who are obese know intellectualy that they have a seriously problem, but because it is not an immediate crisis, and because to change means difficult, hard work, and giving up things they desire strongly,they emotionally put themselves into denial. It takes a crisis, or perhaps an extreme ad that may involve a little guilt or shame, to break out of their denial. That is the first step – secondly there needs to be clear, practical, concrete paths to change one’s lifestyle habits – and not the great variety of ideas bombarded at us on talk shows and books and ads.


  • Paul – Duluth, MN

    A lot of people require a “slap in the face, wake up!” reality check. I don’t think these ads are as strict as a slap, but can be a wake-up call for some. There ARE ridiculous amounts of people who eat poorly and cheaply. There ARE people buying and consuming unhealthy food every day. Although these advertisements don’t apply to or reflect everyone’s behavior, they are SPOT ON to how I personally see people in the real world live their lives. Yes, this may offend some people, but it is definitely something that needs to be driven into everyone’s conscience. But it is not just about obesity- there are plenty of people that aren’t obese that also eat poorly, which is why education and knowledge about the food product itself is the most important. But this requires ambition and drive to care for one’s actions, which sharp, piercing ads and interventions can provide.

  • Daisy

    The arguement that the lady’s grocery cart isn’t realistic is bogus–my husband worked as a grocery store manager for several years and came home daily with horror stories of the strictly junk filled carts. Nothing healthy at all. Take a look next time your in the store and you will see for yourself. These commercials are realistic–even if it hurts.

  • Tory

    I think it is important to remember that not everyone can exercise choice in the matter. So many people who are poor do not have access to healthy foods and have to rely on their local gas stations and fast food chains. For example, I believe food deserts are a real problem in our country, and we need to be looking at systemic cause and effect instead of just the individual.

  • Kathy

    BCBS should have done ads that ID’d where the problem truly starts — and that’s with the corporations who produce bad food: corn syrup, trans fats, hydrogenated oils, processed flours, etc. Just like the ad on smoking (the grave digging one) — it ID’d the tobacco companies, not the smokers.

    Unless you’re someone like me who raises 90% of my own food, and all organically, what healthy food sources exist for most people? I don’t eat at fast food joints (I pack my own food when I travel) but are there a lot of them that offer just organic / veggies / grass-fed / etc.? BCBS (and all the other groups who could bring pressure to the U.S. food system) should take on the source of the problem. Yelling at fat people won’t do any good if those people can’t readily find healthy, affordable good food.

  • Barbara

    If these adds were bullying, and shaming. You would see someone else say to the mom, why are you feeding your kids that, and the same with the dad, someone outside of the maine people. there would be finger pointing, and there is nun of that. the only thing I see is that the one in the add who is doing the wrong thing, they see what they are doing.

  • Sarah

    Some argue that the ads may stigmatize the overweight. Is that necessarily a bad thing? In recent times where we are bombarded with messages that Big is Beautiful, Real Women Have Curves, and “there’s nothing wrong with being big” we have seen obesity skyrocket. A little LESS acceptance may go a long way.

  • Tyler

    I think obesity is directly correlated to the lack of cooking skills and passion among today’s working class. There was a time when the majority of poor people in this country were immigrants with rich cultural food customs. I’ve found a love for cooking, which implicitly leads to an appreciation for fresh and healthy foods — moreover, home cooking tastes better, and people who quote “love food” quickly learn that it is possible to eat normal portions and not subject your body to processed, empty foods. I think it is a myth that healthy food is more expensive –— if you cook your own food, your food budget is bound find some room to breath. Finally, I think the children of good cooks are more likely to have high standards for things they consume.

  • kyle

    I don’t think theses ads are hitting on the real point of our obese problem. Yes it is the parents problem me included. But when generations of us poor people are told that you have to eat to live but not told how to eat healthy but instead being told if you can’t afford it just eat a boxed food. Ding ding ding. Really what do you expect? Japan 1.2 % obese America 35+% obese. Let’s take other countries words On how they eat not the tipical American way.

  • I don’t see any shame here – I see recognition – many people simply refuse to recognize that there is a problem. And eating healthy doesn’t need to more expensive.

  • You think this is shocking! Haha! Watch Jamie Oliver’s Eat to Save Your Life where he has the audience watch an autopsy of a 350 lb man. To see what obesity does to your organs – vow, that was shocking.

  • Amy

    My family immigrated to the US from a poverish country and my mother always made large meals which lead to my family being obese. My parents were never given proper nutrition education. Have BCBS looked at educating newly immigrated families?

  • Sarah

    Having a few simple rules to live by–for example, “don’t drink anything sweet”, or “don’t eat sweetened breakfast cereal” will go a long way toward helping someone attain and maintain a healthy weight. These are simple rules to teach children. We need to be brutally honest with kids about the role sugar plays in our national weight problem.

  • Bethany

    I don’t think any amount of shame, which is what these adds show will have any effect of anyone that doesn’t want to change. I have always had a weight problem and nothing has made we want to change how I look or feel except ME. It needs to come from within yourself. Why can’t they have adds that show a healthy way to shop and inexpensively. I would love to eat better and I do, but it cost so much more for a bag of apples vs. a bag of chips! These adds make me mad!

  • Sarah Wisner

    I saw these ads as a motivator. I went to Trader Joes bought spinach, blueberries, almonds, etc. If people can just change/replace one unhealthy food with a healthy one, just start simple, you can feel the results. Replace a sugar soda with a handful of almonds and you’ll feel better immediately.

  • Mary Wallace

    Obesity is not a choice. The role of poverty — or cost and availability of good food — and agri-business limit our access to healthy food. Then you have the role of some of this pseudo-science like the Stanford ‘study’ on organic foods. Much of the chemical interactions of the foods sold make our bodies obese [additives, pesticides, corn syrup, etc] — and then our bodies demand that we provide those — much like an addiction, without the original choice involved. BCBS’s EBT program this summer was one approach that was wonderful — tripled the amount of fresh organic produce I could afford [I get a very small amount of food stamps, but the program doubled that amount for me, and all the stands at the farmer’s market started accepting food stamps]

  • A. Suchomel

    I think the ads are great. self realization takes a long time and is a difficult thing to do. The way I see these ads, they are only an attempt to make parents and adults realize that their choices affect their children. Parents shape how their children will define a meal when they are living on their own as adults. The choices adults make are helping to program and shape the child’s mind, and the brain does not fully develop until the early twenties.

    Also, ads targeted at smokers, alcoholics, and those trying to prevent domestic violence seem to not be called bullying, but advancing the greater good and health of the population. However, I am sure that any persons in the above category may feel that these types of ads may be bullying. There will always be someone that is upset by and feel attacked by a PSA, but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t be there.

    these ads are not attacking anyone, simply trying to make individuals consider how their choices may influence others.

  • ralph nesset

    Through most of history man has expirenced more famine then “feast” Those individuals whoo could store extra fat during feast better survived famine. Thus evolution has peoduced a population that readily puts on weight. Until science comes up with an effective pschological strategy for individuals to tose pounds, weight loss is gonig to be an almost unsuccessful battle.

  • melanie

    Wow. The ads gave me chills. Maybe it’s a bit uncomfortable–but REAL LIFE can be uncomfortable.

    The soft-handed “let’s have education available for people for IF they choose to look into it” approach works to a degree…for people who are ready to see. But for those still tangled up in the addiction, or in denial that changes must be made can be challenged by REALITY. Not sayin’ it’s easy by a long shot…but NECESSARY.

    Some of the choices we have made (or have neglected to make) as parents in choosing to be honest with our kids about sugar and non-foods will have LIFE-ALTERING effects on our kids.

  • Nikki

    I think the first ad is a little far fetched, but the second one I think hits it right on. Children mimic, and it is up to you as a parent to make sure you are teaching the right eating habits.

    I struggle with this as a parent because my oldest daughter, who is 7, is at risk of being overweight when she is older. I try to tell her the ways of eating (like eating slow, giving time for you brain to tell you you full, and healthy eating) but then I have her father (who is morbidly obese) telling her that she is just fine and she can eat what she wants. I think that parents need to know the ins and outs because they themselves do not realize it or just plain ignore it. This is not an issue to be ignoring people.

  • Sarah

    I don’t have children but I know that if I did, I would educate them about food in the same way I would about money. I learned neither as a child. I do know that what finally worked for me as an adult was recording my meals to learn the calories in what I was eating. I truly had no idea!! That was my education. Now I know, even when I do splurge on one meal, I know that I have fewer calories for the rest of the day. I also know that I need to be active everyday. That is difficult and I have to recommit everyday to walking or other activity. BUT my biggest hang -up for years was SHAME, complicated by depression and untreated hypothyroid. I felt that I was living with a sentence of obesity. The messages that haunted me told me that nothing I do would be good enough. I grew accustomed to living as the victim who would forever be fat. Well, I wasn’t at all comfortable. And I finally learned that nothing would change as along as I continued to tell myself that. It took small steps and determination but so far I have lost 35 lbs in the last year. I gained 100 lbs over the last 15 years. If I lose another 70 in the next year or two, I will feel so proud…and healthy!!

    At the same time, I can’t go without taking food companies to task for trading our health and wellness for the almighty dollar. There should be higher regulation on the claims and advertising food corporations make, not to mention the ingredients in their products. Our children and those with limited access to fresh food are taken advantage of without giving a second thought.

  • Leslie

    I’m overweight and when I saw the ads on TV, I wasn’t offended. On the other hand, it wasn’t a new idea. I always watched my shopping cart because a) I wanted to ensure a healthy mix of food for my family and b) I know people around me are watching and judging me. If you don’t know that, you’re skinny.

    And that’s where this ad becomes a problem. It perpetuates non-fat people’s idea about why others are fat. Everyone thinks THEY know your problem and THEY know what you need to do. But they never think it’s because you are on a medication that made you gain weight, or that you are working 2 or 3 jobs and only have time for fast food, or that you are using a food bank and have few choices, or that you can exercise or sleep but you don’t have time for both (or whatever your particular problem).

    Fat people face constant judgment, and even outright harassment from others. A campaign like this needs to be very careful not to encourage judgementalism.

  • Judy

    We need to raise the level of consciousness in America. As a society we are out of touch with nature, our food, and our bodies. I applaud BCBS for the ads. There is a reason this country has an obesity problem and making people more aware of their choices is key to reversing the trend. It’s not just fast food and snack foods that are the problem. The art of cooking from scratch needs to be embraced. Opening a box of hamburger helper does not constitute cooking from scratch. Also I dispute that poor people cannot afford healthy choices. Again the answer is to learn to cook from scratch. It does not cost a lot to cook up a big pot of soup and serve with homemade bread.

  • ray

    These ads are the perfect antidote to a “Honey Boo Boo” society. We need to wake up before its too late.

    These ads aren’t a shaming moment. They’re a “holy crap, my kid has been watching me” moment. Big difference. Congrats to Blue Cross for having the guts to run these commercials, knowing they would get criticism.

    I bet they they’ll work on many people too, whether those people would admit it later or not.

  • Karen

    These ads are effective for some and not for others. We need a variety of ways to get the message across re: our responsibilities to decrease the obesity epidemic. This issue is complicated and one solution does not fit all… But if an ad like this opens some people’s awareness it’s worth it. For sure, not all obese people shop like the woman in the ad, but some do. And I think this is an effective way for them to think about how this impacts themselves and the rest of the family. It sure got my attention! I really believe it all starts at the grocery store. If it’s not in the house, you can’t eat it.

  • Emily

    I think sometimes educated people take it for granted that they are healthy, understand how to read/interpret food-labels, cook for ourselves, and even have time to sit at a dinner table. The reason many children model off their parents’ eating habits/styles is because in fact the parents themselves are not educated and maybe work 2-3 jobs, including the night-shift. Adults/parents may know that they are overweight, but as simple as it may seem to some of us, they honestly may not know why. In this day and age in the US, we have many other cultures to think about besides Anglo-Saxons – there is a significant language barrier outside of large cities (and even in cities themselves). I’m a firm believer that until parents and adults are educated, how are children supposed to fully understand the consequences of their eating?

  • Kara

    Kudos to BCBS for having the guts to point out the importance of showing kids healthy eating habits. I was very impressed with these commercials. I grew up always having pop in the house (my mom was addicted to the caffeine, and felt that if she was going to drink it, it wouldn’t be fair to not let us children). We would also eat a lot of fast food to save time. I didn’t learn how to cook much beyond macaroni & cheese and omelets (although my mother is a great cook and now rarely eats fast food). It wasn’t until halfway through college that I started cooking for myself and really appreciating the importance of fresh, healthy, organic food. I stopped drinking soda pop and eventually lost all the excess weight I had carried since adolescence. I am now pregnant with my first child and am very excited to teach him or her about cooking and the importance and joy of eating healthy foods.

  • I totally didn’t take the ads that way at all. Weird.