Monday, January 23, 2006

Inside Bay Area - Bay Area Living

A new way of attacking the fat that has the government helping out to attack the obesity epidemic in America.Inside Bay Area - Bay Area Living: "In the last 18 months, the federal government, health advocates and private companies have begun to merge their efforts against fat and inactivity. The Department of Health and Human Services has turned to a top Madison Avenue advertising company and a leading Internet design company to create the Small Steps campaign. Media companies are rethinking their long-standing practice of marketing junk food to kids. And health advocacy organizations such as the American Heart Association are forming partnerships with companies willing to spread their message to a seen-it-all, heard-it-all American public.
'Very few behaviors change because someone saw an ad. You need social norms in place, environmental supports, the products, the placement, all the things that make the right decisions easy,' says Carol Schechter, director of health communications for the Academy for Educational Development, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit organization.
Programs working
Thus far, campaigns aimed at selling healthy behavior have persuaded Americans, in large part, to wear seat belts, quit smoking and refrain from drinking alcohol and driving.
But consider the 22.5 percent of Americans who smoke, the 18 percent who never wear seat belts and the 17,000 killed each year by drunk drivers, and one understands the limits of health campaigns. Listen to Americans including Schwartz-Getzug talk about the crush of demands upon them and the temptations they face daily, and one perceives a sobering truth: Marketing campaigns aimed at changing behavior face long odds.
A full-time community-relations specialist with the U.S. Jewish Federation and mother of three kids ages 5 to 13, Schwartz-Getzug can't fathom how she could find time to get to the park, much less play with her kids there. Besides, she says, 'I'm not convi"

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