Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Australia's "Swap It, Don't Stop It" Anti-Obesity Campaign

As we saw yesterday in the story from Mexico, it’s not just the United States that has an obesity crisis. The problem exists in most of the developed world.

Treating obesity and obesity-related illnesses costs hundreds of billions of dollars annually.
Governments, already squeezed financially, are realizing that healthier populations will alleviate some of their financial burdens. (Click here to read about supersized emergency equipment.)

In this vein, the Australian Government just started the “Swap It, Don’t Stop It” campaign, which urges citizens to lose weight by making “healthier lifestyle choices to reduce their risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and some cancers.”

According to Nicola Roxon, the Australian Health Minister, “obesity cost Australia a massive $58.2
billion.” In addition, over 60 percent of Australian adults are overweight or obese.

While the “Swap It” message is a serious one, its spokesman is Eric, an animated blue balloon character. I am sure this was done on purpose, in an attempt to soften the weighty nature of the topic; I wonder if Australians will feel pandered to. I doubt this would work in the United States if aimed at the adult population.

According to the press release announcing the campaign:
“On television, in print and on the radio, Eric will urge Australians to make some simple lifestyle changes to become healthier – for instance swap big for small (portion control); swap often for sometimes (occasional treats); swap fried for fresh (nutritional quality); swap sitting for moving (physical activity); and swap watching for playing (physical activity).”
Click here to visit the “Swap It, Don’t Stop It” website.

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