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Three-Quarter Turn —

January 11, 2012

Strong4Life continues to rationalize its bullying campaign in Georgia by appealing to health concerns, as well as the absurd claim that parents aren’t aware that childhood obesity is an issue. This former claim is substantiated by a statistic that Strong4Life repeatedly throws out that 75% of parents aren’t aware of the issue.

This 75% statistic is frequently cited as “our research,” which suggests that Children’s Hospital of Atlanta (CHOA) has had some kind of study to determine how many parents are unaware of the “problem” of childhood obesity. Except when you go to Strong4Life’s website under “Learn About Childhood Obesity,” the 75% statistic is cited yet again, but no source is given.

There, they tell us that “75% of parents in Georgia who have overweight or obese children do not recognize the problem.”

But what does that mean? Does that mean that 75% of parents know their child is obese, but refuse to do anything? Does that mean that 75% of parents deny that obesity is a problem? Does that mean that 75% of parents have no idea that there’s a War on Fat to be waged?

Strong4Life has responded to a few of my tweets, but when I requested that they back up their 75% claim, they refused to respond.

And yet, they continue to throw out the 75% stat, albeit inconsistently.

First, they made this claim in response to a complaint:

Next, they threw out another 75% statistic, but with a different conclusion:

Finally, they returned to their first claim, that 75% of parents are clueless:

Whoever is running Strong4Life’s Twitter page is playing fast and loose with their statistics. Not only that, but they are couching this as “research,” but no research results are available to the public. I would like to take a look at this “research” and see exactly what they found because they sure as hell don’t seem to understand it.

Then, on Friday, something amazing happened. The Reverend Emily C. Heath, who you should follow today, began commenting on Strong4Life.

Rev. Heath actually worked with CHOA and finds the current campaign despicable as well. She believes the real problem that she saw at CHOA was bullying and eating disorders, but Strong4Life responded by saying, “But there lots of fatties too!”

But how many? How many kids are treated for “obesity-related diseases” versus self-harm due to bullying or eating disorders? Which is the bigger immediate problem?

But something I found strange about Strong4Life’s response was its reference to “obesity-related diseases.” Although metabolic syndrome is related to disease, it is more often related to insulin resistance, not obesity.

Thin kids can get type 2 diabetes, but if it’s called an “obesity-related disease” their parents might be unaware of the possibility that their child could develop it as well. So, I did some quick research to see if any studies commented on the correlation between these “obesity-related diseases” and obesity vs. insulin resistance, and I presented it to Strong4Life to get their comment. In it, I refer to NASH, which is short for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, or non-alcoholic fatty liver syndrome, which is correlated with obesity.

So, how does Strong4Life respond to complaints that their awareness campaign might reduce the awareness of parents with thinner children that metabolic diseases can affect them as well? They send me to their “fact page” for childhood obesity.

You can read the research on NASH here and the statistics on kids with type 2 diabetes here.

This week, we will be looking at these “facts” in greater depth. Strong4Life is attempting to justify their hateful campaign through health concerns, but they aren’t concerned about the potentially negative impact that publicly stigmatizing fat children can have.

Please continue calling and writing to CHOA and telling them exactly what you think of this campaign. And please share this information with someone you know who will be just as outraged as you are. We must keep up the pressure if we are to see an end to this disgusting campaign.

Linda Matzigkeit (doing interviews in defense of the billboards)
Vice President of CHOA
404 785 7824 (her admin’s number, so please be polite)
linda.matzigkeit@choa.org

Stephanie Walsh (doing interviews in defense of the billboards)
Medical Director of CHOA
404 785 6104 (her admin’s number, so please be polite)
stephanie.walsh@choa.org

Kevin McClelland (who they direct you to for complaints about the billboards)
Public Relations Director for CHOA
404 785 7600
kevin.mcclelland@choa.org

Children’s Foundation
404-785-4483
choagiving@choa.org

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