Ads not about 'fat shaming', says health service

CONFRONTING: An image that Bendigonians will be confronted with on television and in newspapers.
CONFRONTING: An image that Bendigonians will be confronted with on television and in newspapers.

IF you have "grabbable fat" around the abdomen, the state government wants you to know all about it.

The Victorian government, in conjunction with the Cancer Council and Heart Foundation, launched the LiveLighter advertising blitz on Monday.

The advertisements are the exact copy of a campaign which ran in Western Australia for two years.

Reminiscent of the "Every cigarette is doing you damage" advertisements, the campaign uses graphic images of "toxic fat" in the abdomen on full-page newspaper advertisements and on television.

Bendigo Community Health Service chief executive officer Kim Sykes said the campaign was not about "fat shaming".

"This isn't just about what you look like - of course you can look gorgeous and still carry some extra weight," she said.

"It's to make people really understand that if you can grab the fat around your middle, then you have a higher likelihood of a range of chronic conditions.

"Given the evidence we now have about the importance of fat, particularly around your middle, it's particularly important that we use lots of different strategies to get the message out."

The City of Greater Bendigo will officially launch the campaign in Bendigo on Wednesday, including the latest statistics on chronic health conditions and details on how people can address their health.

Any results on the effectiveness of the campaign in Western Australia were yet to be released.

Ms Sykes said there was also a message that "you don't have to be obese to be unhealthy".

"It needs to be recognised that even small changes can have a big impact on people's health," she said.

"It's about having a balance in the messages that are sent out, just focusing on weight isn't the solution."

Critics have argued the campaign could be counter-productive and only serve to alienate those overweight.


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