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Controversy Over New Calif. Ad Discussing Childhood Obesity

(ABC) — There’s uproar about a startling new ad campaign to fight childhood obesity. The ad actually shows pictures of kids doctored to look obese.

Is it sending the wrong message to your kids?

This smiling, chubby face appears in ads all around California. Well, this is what the little girl really looks like – much thinner and healthier.

It is a public service ad by the State of California and the child model’s extra pounds were the result of photoshopping.

“They are taking a perfectly healthy little girl and photoshopping her to make her look unhealthily obese. It’s no surprise that people are outraged at that,” says Emma Bazilian of AdWeek.

People like author Marilyn Wann, who took her outrage straight to the Internet and asked: “How creepy is it to Photoshop this child in this manner? If public health messages lie like this, why should people trust them?”

The agency behind the ad says the goal is to start a dialogue about healthy eating. In a statement to ABC News, a spokeswoman said: “This campaign serves to educate parents on the realities and dangers of childhood obesity and get them to change their behaviors..”

It’s hardly the first childhood obesity ad to turn into a giant controversy. A campaign in Georgia used real overweight kids. Some called it downright mean.

“On one hand, if you use real kids, you’re going to be called fat shamers. On the other hand, if you take this kid and you photoshop them, it’s really a no win situation,” Bazilian adds.

Other photoshopped ads have gone viral too, for taking off too much, like an ad for Ralph Lauren, showing a stick thin model, or a New York City diabetes campaign.

The disease didn’t take the man’s leg away. Computer magic did.

But this most recent ad, photoshopped chubbiness and all, shows one thing is clear: people are talking about childhood obesity, and that might just be the point.

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