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Time Traveler —

January 19, 2012

Today, it has now been eight days since Strong4Life told me through its Twitter account that they were”research bkgrd is being collected” for the statistic on alleged parental neglect that justifies their campaign.

Eight days.

To me, this means they are hard at work spinning the data to reflect the multiple conflicting claims they have made about the 75% statistic.

With that in mind, I no longer want to read their research paper. I don’t need their spin.

Instead, I want Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta to release the raw data, so that we can read it and judge for ourselves. The raw data will not take weeks to gather. Presumably, this third party research firm has the raw data and Strong4Life chose to sit on it, rather than analyze and publish it in a transparent fashion prior to their shame campaign.

So, we are calling on Strong4Life to release the raw data and let us judge the content for ourselves.

Of course, I couldn’t wait for the report, so I did a little sleuthing of my own and discovered a quote from the man who is in charge of this campaign, Ron Frieson, chairman of the Strong4Life campaign. Last May, when the campaign launched, Meredith Vieira interviewed Frieson on The Today Show.

During the interview, Frieson said something that caught me completely off guard. I’m not sure, since Strong4Life refuses to release the results, but it seems as though Frieson revealed some of the results of their research in the interview:

The parents said it was more important for their kids to be happy than to focus on their weight, assuming they would grow out of their weight issues.

Okay, so how does Frieson know what parents say is more important? They asked parents, either through a survey or a focus group. And what did the parents say? They would rather their kids be happy than focus on their weight, assuming they would grow out of their weight issues.

Did the researchers ask something like, “Assuming your child grows out of their weight issues, would you rather your kids be happy or focus on their weight?” Is this the 75%? Because Frieson makes it sound as though they asked parents if they would rather have kids worried about their weight or happy AND told them to assume that their kids would not be fat adults. Given all of that information, how would you respond? How would any good parent respond?

“Well, even though I’m assuming they won’t be fat adults, I still think it’s more important for my child focus on their weight than be happy.”

Again, until they release the raw data, I’m just going to assume that this is the 75% question.

But Frieson goes on to chide those parents who would dare wish happiness upon their children over size obsession.

But the fact is, Meredith, these kids are 10 times as likely to become overweight adults than their normal weight peers, and we already know they are suffering from low self-esteem, from depression, and in addition to that, loads of clinical types of issues.

Frieson then went on to say*, “The solution, therefore, is to plaster the state with billboards that will give them even lower self-esteem and a greater incidence of depression.”

We’ll talk about the clinical types of issues either tomorrow or Monday, but let’s focus on the mental health of these children. Ron Frieson acknowledges, and Dr. Stephanie Walsh, CHOA’s Medical Director, agrees,  that fat kids suffer from low self-esteem and depression, and this is their answer?

How might these posters contribute to low self-esteem and depression? Did they ask any parents that?

And when confronted by critics who say, “This bullies fat children,” Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta has consistently responded with some variation of “The ad campaign is targeted toward parents and caretakers- not the children.”

I guess the communications department of CHOA decided to take the George W. Bush approach and simply state what they want you to believe while ignoring the absurdity of the claim all together.

Of course, they haven’t always cited the immunity of children from the messages of these billboards. In this same interview, Vieira asked, “You’re aiming it at parents, is that correct?”

Aaaaaaah… I haven’t seen such hard-hitting questions since George Sylvester Viereck’s 1923 interview with Adolf Hitler, when he asked the budding Führer, “You’re interested in purifying the German race for our own good, is that correct?”

So, Vieira basically tells Frieson, “You’re aiming it at parents, NOT KIDS, right?” and Frieson responds:

Well actually, we want parents to be aware, but we want educators to be aware and we want other kids to see these kids who may very well relate to them.

Wait, you want fat kids to see these ads?

Now, after thousands, if not millions, of fat kids have seen these ads day in and day out for eight whole months, your staff says, “Nevermind, we’re only aiming the ads at parents.”


From the very beginning Ron Frieson, the chairman of Strong4Life, indicated that they intended for these ads to reach fat kids. You can’t change intention once you achieve your goal. You have reached the fat children of Georgia, Strong4Life, and now you are reaping the consequences.

“But this is just Phase 1,” they’ve said.

They’ve been on Phase 1 since May. What happened to Phase 2?

Did they forget about Phase 2? Was Phase 2 too horrific to actually execute? Did they run out of money? Did they misplace Phase 2 along with the research?

It turns out, when you watch the video of this interview, Frieson sums up the goals of Phase 2:

And as we go forward with this campaign, the ads that are to follow are directed more at healthy eating and kids encouraging their parents to get involved.

The second part of the campaign we call Activate, so you’ll see Maya and you’ll see the rest of her counterparts become much more active, extremely happy about their journey to become more healthy.

Not only do they have Phase 2 and 3 outlined, they actually play a clip from Phase 2 during this interview. And it looks interesting. It’s in color and the fat child and (presumably) parent are dancing and laughing and having fun. From the brief glimpse we get, it seems to be a positive ad. So, why continue with Phase 1?

Phase 2 is in the can. Phase 2 is complete and ready to roll. But Strong4Life has not progressed to Phase 2.

Why not?

This isn’t something I can answer. Only Strong4Life can answer that, and they are keeping mum on the details.

Strong4Life is playing cruel games with the children of Georgia. They are gambling with the mental and physical health of fat kids, and blaming everyone but themselves for the consequences of these ads. They have attempted to position the ad campaign as a temporary blip in a long-term strategy of health and wellness.

Eight months is not a temporary blip.

Eight months is not merely a phase.

Eight months is a campaign of terror, pounding fear, self-loathing and judgement into all the children of Georgia.

Strong4Life is arming bullies and attacking fat children, and it must stop.

Please, join us in fighting back against this campaign with our write-in campaign.

Eight months is far too long to endure this kind of public harassment.

*He didn’t really.

One Comment leave one →
  1. vesta44 permalink
    January 19, 2012 4:49 pm

    The entirely cynical side of me says that Phase 1 is going to last a year before they roll out Phase 2. Phase 2 will last at least a year before they roll out Phase 3, etc, etc. The longer they can make each phase last, the more fear and loathing they can instill in everyone in Georgia and the more money they will make off the terrified people who enroll in their “solutions” and come to their hospital for tests and check-ups and prescriptions (because you know they’re going to find kids with high blood pressure and other ailments, and those kids are just going to have to be medicated, diet and exercise just isn’t going to work, amirite?). And people wonder why the cost of health care is so high…………….

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