California Anti-Obesity Ad Campaign Photoshops Pictures Of Kids To Make Them Look Fatter


Government health propaganda is bad enough, but how about government health propaganda that features images deliberately manipulated to make a political point?

Sponsors of a campaign that’s drawing ire say it’s meant to educate parents and create change since pictures of healthy, smiling kids don’t really work in targeting obesity.

This is one before and after Photoshop job that’s not going down too well.

First 5 California has been doing anti-obesity campaigns for years, hoping to inculcate healthy food habits among parents. This year, the government-funded early childhood program went a step further and Photoshopped images of kids to make them appear bigger than they normally were.

Here’s a before-and-after of one of the stock images of a little girl, the first from a different campaign and the second from the State of California’s anti-obesity campaign:


The reaction from California officials after the photoshopping was found out? Fake but accurate:

“It was intended to show parents the real-life consequences of obesity and what sugar can do to our children’s lives,” said First 5 spokesperson Lindsay Van Laningham. “The ads have just started going up in a series of convenience stores in certain parts of the state where it’s hard to get access to healthy food … areas deemed ‘food deserts.'”

There are fat kids in America, no doubt about it. Kids who look very much like the kids in these pictures. But if the government wants to run ads about fat kids, let them use real fat kids. Manipulating the images is just plain dishonest, and sets a poor precedent wherein if the government finds it easier to make a point by manufacturing false information, they’ll do it.