Wednesday, January 21

Government Health Campaign Uses a New Strategy Against Obesity

Video games are the cause, but where is the exergaming response?

About a year ago I wrote about £235 million of taxpayers money that looked like it had very little to offer the modern day society. The misconception that led to this mistake was down to the fact the government doesn't know it's Xbox from it's Wii.

Now the government is spending on an awareness campaign that uses video games as an example of how not to be healthy. The commercial does not give the obvious alternative of Gamercize and exergaming as the better choices in play. Raising just the problem without the direct solution is not helpful at all.

In fact if you take a look at the commercial here:

you will notice how similar the message is to this more practical Gamercize information video (released a few months prior) that supports the concepts having exercise as an integral part of work and play:

The real irony in this government message is that private sponsors of the campaign include fizzy drink, unhealthy snack food and chocolate companies! Maybe this is why the government advert doesn't show Coca-cola, Mars, Nestle, Cadbury, Kellogg's, Kraft or PepsiCo type products?

See how many of those products you can't spot in the government's TV commercial.

This conflict of interest isn't lost on everyone, quoting this news report, Tam Fry, spokesman for the National Obesity Forum and the Child Growth Foundation, calls them out:

"We fervently hope that Change4Life will succeed where
other department campaigns have failed.

Our optimism will be tempered until we see whether the food, advertising and fitness industries really do deliver the promised goods. We are tempted to think that the former two are donating millions of pounds to Government as a way of heading it off from imposing the regulation it fears.

Legislation on the way food is processed and advertised should have come in two years ago."

It is at this point that the campaign starts to lose credibility and fails as an intervention, by being controlled by spin doctors instead of medical doctors, directed by PR executives instead of research experts.

Despite the problems, conflict of interests and lack of practical advice, Change4Life is a sign of progress in the government's understanding of the modern lifestyle. Maybe next year this understanding will have caught up some more and exergaming will be on the table as a suggestion of activity.

For now, we follow the government advice - which play more Frisbee in the (presumably new) park! Great fun during the summer but consider it gets dark late afternoon at this time of year. Night Frisbee in the sub zero temperatures just doesn't do it for me - I'm off to play the PS3 with Gamercize, see you online!

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