Blue Cross ads aimed at obesity: mean or necessary?

I am a little late to the party commenting on these Blue Cross Minnesota ads that address the obesity epidemic. First, a couple of statistics:

  • By 2019 obesity will become the leading cause of death.
  • By 2030 50% of Minnesotans will be obese.

In the face of these terrifying numbers, you can see how it seems like a good idea to highlight food choices and how these choices look to our kids. These ads have been roundly criticized for being too shaming and down right mean. See for yourself.


I think the ads would be appropriate if we had a consistent and coherent message about what people need to do to lose weight; if the people in the commercials knew better, they could do better. But we don’t have these consistent messages. We live in the land of “calories in, calories out,” “Move more!” and other overly simplistic maxims about how to lose weight. We also live in a land where heavily-subsidized foods (corn, soy) are promoted as healthy,  but they are making us fat.

It’s all about cravings

Anyone who reads this blog, and who is trying lose weight differently (something other than a one-size-fits-all diet), knows that losing weight takes more than this overly simplistic advice leads us to believe.  If we truly want to help people, like the ones in these ads, make better choices, we need to shake off the overly simplistic advice and get real about what it takes to lose weight for the LONG TERM. Until we address the issue of people’s biochemical cravings for the bad stuff, people cannot lose weight. If we are relying on people’s will power to lose weight, which much of the advice does, they will fail over and over like I did for 30 years. No number of ads will change that.

What are your thoughts on the ads? Leave a  comment.

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6 Comments on “Blue Cross ads aimed at obesity: mean or necessary?”

  1. Jeff says:

    The first video didn’t run, but the second ad could be considered by some to be cruel. I have always found that this type of criticism doesn’t take into account how food is used by a lot of people as a short term feel good activity. While it is true we teach by example, there can be a disconnection that adds to the guilt.

  2. Kelly Buss says:

    I just finished reading Gary Taubes book “Why We Get Fat and what to do about it”. Boy, was that an eye opener! Seeing these ads just reminds me how the so called experts continue to give all of us, thin or thick, misinformation and only because they don’t have the courage to admit that they were wrong! It makes me wonder when they’ll finally get it right?

  3. Rhonda says:

    My friend and I were talking about these ads and we thought that this ads could just as well feature an average-weight person because the food choices shown in the commercials are bad for EVERYONE. But, that wouldn’t create as big of a reaction – I would like to know what average and underweight people think of these ads, because as an overweight person, they just make me angry. These ads operate under the common assumption that all overweight people are gluttons and just sit around eating junk food all day, which is not true of me or other overweight people that I know. They also perpetuate the idea that it is an overweight person’s fault that his/her body uses/stores calories in a different way than “normal” weight people. I guess it just shows how ignorant the insurance companies are about what causes obesity.

    • I agree. Your comments are so smart. I always say that if you could harness the energy that overweight people put into losing weight, you could power the world.

      Thanks for reading!

      Sent from my iPhone


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