Child Laborer

Exploiting Kids with Obesity for Political Mudslinging

Nothing rankles quite so much as exploiting kids living with obesity for raw political purposes. Right now, a conservative group is using  images of kids with obesity in a campaign against companies that speak out on voting rights. In this case, they are targeting Coca-Cola with political attack ads, calling the company Woka-Cola.

But to do this, they’re using stigmatizing images of kids with obesity chugging massive bottles of soda. Mocking the style of Coke’s 1971 Teach the World to Sing ad, sweet voices tell us Coke is the road to obesity. Next comes images of fat bellies, measuring tapes, diabetes, and a needle going into one of those bellies.

Woka-Cola Political Ad

A Weird Parody

We can’t quite wrap our head around this weird parody. The campaign is a mashup of conservative complaints about wokeness with accusations of the companies trampling on progressive causes.

The group behind this campaign is Consumers’ Research. Elizabeth Nolan Brown describes the confusing messages it presents:

“If Consumers’ Research wasn’t a long-standing conservative group, I would suspect these ads were some sort of psyop aimed at getting unsuspecting rank-and-file right-wingers to support more progressive causes.”

Mocking Stupid Childhood Obesity Memes?

Perhaps there’s a positive way of looking at this nasty advertising, though. Maybe it does a good job of mocking stupid childhood obesity memes. We say this because it merges so many offensive images with a simplistic and false story line about obesity. So it comes across as absurd and offensive all at once.

It reminds us how harmful and stigmatizing some anti-obesity campaigns have been.

Leave Us Out of Zero-Sum Politics

The bottom line here is simple, really. Exploiting kids with obesity for political purposes is bad. It’s not OK on either end of the political spectrum. Catastrophizing obesity and staging petty fights about food policy does nothing to reverse the rising trends. It does nothing to improve the health of people living with obesity. Progress will require better access to obesity care. It will require a thoughtful approach to finding prevention strategies that actually work.

So leave us out of your brain-dead political squabbles, please.

Click here and here for more about this campaign. Click here for the Woka-Cola ad.

Child Laborer, photograph by Lewis Hine / WikiArt

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August 17, 2021