What’s Wrong with This “Let’s Move!” Ad?

Hi Readers — What’s wrong with this commercial for the campaign, “Let’s Move” ?


Well, first of all, it assumes it is OUR JOB, as parents, to keep coming up with one-minute exercises that will some how magically take the place of an entire CHILDHOOD spent running around. Secondly, it doesn’t even remotely suggest that maybe kids can entertain themselves or be active of their own accord. Thirdly, all this “moving” lasts about a minute. So if you want your kids to move for even half a measly hour a day, you have to come up with 29 more clever little exercises to sneak into their schedule.

If we really want kids to get moving, we have to get them outside again. Playing. With each other, not us. Is that too radical an idea for “Let’s Move” to put forth? — L


126 Responses to What’s Wrong with This “Let’s Move!” Ad?

  1. Joey Bourgoin March 21, 2011 at 7:53 pm #

    What does she need the dollar for, she ran back up stairs.. Maybe she can use it to go to the store down the road and get some candy. Or can she not go outside alone?

  2. Jennifer Armstrong March 21, 2011 at 7:54 pm #

    I thought she was going to say “Yes, here’s a dollar, walk to the corner market and buy yourself a snack.”

  3. Jules March 21, 2011 at 7:55 pm #

    Here’s an idea. Have the kid finish helping you prepare the food (learning valuable culinary skills. Maybe this child can make dinner tomorrow night.) Then when you’re done, tell her to go ride her bike for a while. Or play catch for a while. Or do some cartwheels on the front lawn.

  4. frances March 21, 2011 at 7:57 pm #

    I’ve only seen one ad so far, but I didn’t think that particular one was so bad. I get your overall point though,

    The one I saw was the one where the mother shuts the electricity off in the house so the kids will go outside. It’s like something my mom would have done. lol

    I like that the mom doesn’t feel the need to follow them outside and watch their every move (at least not in the commercial).

    I haven’t seen any others yet, but I will take a look.

  5. salisburydowns March 21, 2011 at 7:57 pm #

    Lenore, I can’t agree with you here. I think this is a great advert. A mum encouraging her child to race about the house BEFORE she heads outside. I think you’re being a bit harsh in your assessment. Gee, I never thought we’d disagree. x

  6. Marie March 21, 2011 at 8:05 pm #

    Plus in no family would that result in laughter so much as bitterness that her mom was needlessly sending her all over the house – that might work and be fun for a preschooler, but here it’s just a mean trick and a lie – NOT how a parent should promote anything, but especially exercise.

    And actually, I’ve been involved in a lot of discussions about the “Let’s Move” campaign’s utter silence on the idea of kids going out on their own to play (if they promote play at all, it’s always as part of organized sports or adult-led P.E. classes). Unfortunately, I really think the campaign is under pressure to keep parents feeling comfortable – which they can only do by encouraging children to stay within sight of adults at all times. There’s probably an element of fear as well in that what if they put up national spot telling/showing kids to go to a park alone and something happened to a kid somewhere that could be traced back to it (because you know that’s exactly what some lawyer or news outlet or person of the opposite political party would do). Unfortunately in our nation some (though not nearly the majority) do live in neighborhoods where going out alone to play is truly not safe. All it would take is one “incident” in such a neighborhood and the “Let’s Move” campaign would be under fire for not promoting childhood health and safety at all, but detracting from it.

    I’m not saying I agree at all, but that’s what seems to be the case. As of right now, adult fears are the root cause of many childhood problems in our society, so it’s not out of the question that adults need to have a hand in promoting the fixes.

  7. anne March 21, 2011 at 8:06 pm #

    forget the exercise issues – this shows the mom being untruthful – how does that inspire trust between parent and child?

  8. rhodykat March 21, 2011 at 8:14 pm #

    What a horrible commercial! And there is one where the mom shuts off the electricity? Whatever happened to mom saying “outside” and the kids going for no other reason than because mom said so? If the mother has to shut off the electricity to get the kids to go outside, then there are bigger issues which need to be discussed. Last Sunday, we went to my parents house. Before we went, I told the kids that the house was off limits. They were outside from 12:30 to about 6:00 – no bikes, no toys, no games organized by adults. They went and found the kids on the street and got them to come out and play. Twice the 8-year old tried to come in, and twice she went back out simply because the adults told her to.

    This whole campaign says a lot about American culture today – the kids rule, and parents are scrambling to figure out how to control them.

  9. Katie March 21, 2011 at 8:16 pm #

    Or playing outside sometimes by themselves and sometimes together with adults!

  10. Marie March 21, 2011 at 8:18 pm #

    And as a secondary comment, part of the reason kids CAN’T be active of their own accord is that in many situations they are punished for doing so. Check in to the majority of elementary schools, and kids are constantly being reprimanded for not sitting still and paying attention. They are told to sit still all day for 6 or more hours a day in many schools and many are given medication to enforce this behavior. Many come to the after-school program where I work, where we try to enforce active free play, but I’ll tell you what – it usually doesn’t work. Kids just stand around the play area. They have never been given the opportunity to organize amusements for themselves without adult intervention, and they actually do not know how to do it. When we ask the kids what they like to do for fun, the number #1 answers (even from the 4 & 5 year olds) are watching TV and playing video games.

    Now, I’m not saying our play area is the greatest – the play equipment itself is useful only for age 6 and under I would say, but at least there’s a grassy area for running games and a basketball hoop. I’d love it if the kids could run around climbing trees the way I used to, or hey, even walk home from school (or walk to our community center, two blocks from the school), but that’s out – kids are required to take the bus in our area, and other adults get uncomfortable if they see a kid even walking from one side of the community center to the other, unless one of our staff is literally following them (“What if something happens?”). This is true whether the kid is 3 or 11. It makes me want to scream!

  11. Mike March 21, 2011 at 8:25 pm #

    Look at it politically. The central government (the parent) dictates action. There is no independent motion by the child, only following orders from on high.

    A much better approach (and the one most of us take here) is independence. “Go outside and play! YOU decide how to run around!”

    Stateism or liberty. I’ll take liberty. Be back for supper kid, till then get out of here.

  12. Tara March 21, 2011 at 8:30 pm #

    And will the girl believe her mom next time she says her purse is on her bed? Not a chance. In real life, the daughter would realize that her mother was lying to her and sullenly sulk away.

    My kids know lots of little catch phrases around my house. One is “I’m not the entertainment committee”. We turn off the gadgets sometime in the morning and they don’t come on again until I need a half hour of peace in the late afternoon to figure out dinner!

  13. Heila March 21, 2011 at 8:46 pm #

    My 8 year old would not have laughed at the realisation that I’ve deliberately been sending her around the house on a wild goose chase!

  14. Lola March 21, 2011 at 8:49 pm #

    Here’s another idea: You want a dollar? Earn it. Clean the bathroom, wash my car, help me with dinner here, give the dog a bath, change your baby brother’s diapers, mow the lawn, you choose.
    I’m all for exercise, but why not make it a profitable, useful activity?
    Plus, this way my kids have learned that Mum is some sort of chore-shooting robot that goes off as soon as you approach her asking for something. It turns out you always have to do something for her in return. Now, they rather try on their own first, or bug their siblings. But Mum is the last resort. Ha!

  15. cat March 21, 2011 at 9:02 pm #

    I personally hate the one that shows a mom turning off a circuit breaker, and the kids heading outside
    1) power goes out, kids whine because they’re “bored” if they’re trained that tvis entertainment
    2) it’s a cowardly parenting technique, and not really parenting at all. Put your big girl panties on, walk into the room, turn off the tv on them and tell the kids to get their butts outside. You’re the adult, they are the kids.

  16. coffeegod March 21, 2011 at 9:11 pm #

    My guess is the commercial illustrates how to exercise a child without sending them outside where you know they will be kidnapped, sold into slavery and have an endless cycle of unspeakable things happen to them.

    Or not……

    I gave my kid a new bike. It worked for him.

  17. Katie March 21, 2011 at 9:25 pm #

    Marie- does your center have paved areas? Chalk could be good!
    Also, a good book or parents or teachers looking for ideas is *Unplugged Play* . It has ideas for toddlers through school age, indoor and out. If kids have to be taught the games, okay, let’s teach them and then they can play them together!

  18. Swain March 21, 2011 at 9:28 pm #

    I passed a pro-life billboard the other day with an infant wearing a tie and the caption “Dad says I’m the CEO of the house!” (Small print at the bottom: “life begins at conception.”) I nearly drove off the road from gagging. CEO my ass. Who pays the bills, makes the meals, buys the clothes, washes the clothes, etc, etc? The PARENT is the CEO, plain and simple.

    Take back your authority. Your home is a benevolent dictatorship and YOU are the grand poobah. Send the kids outside to play.

  19. Jules March 21, 2011 at 9:29 pm #

    The way I see the circuit breaker ad is that she shuts off the power, but they don’t know that. By not making the interaction herself, she can stand back and watch the kids figure out a backup plan to their electronic gadgets. It was nice to see that the kids chose to play outside. Had she just demanded they go outside, they would have whined and pouted, and probably sat outside doing nothing.

  20. marybt March 21, 2011 at 9:32 pm #

    That’s not actually the biggest problem with the ad.

    The biggest problem is that this is not the job of the federal government and they should not be spending money on these ads.

  21. Kristi March 21, 2011 at 9:32 pm #

    Hand her a rake and make her earn that money, not run all over the house like a squirrel looking for nuts!

    @cat My kids KNOW not to utter the words “I’m bored” within hearing distance of either myself or my husband. You’ll find your “bored self” outside in the yard picking up sticks and pine cones, or stacking the endless cords of wood that are needed for cold Kentucky winters.

    As for the commerical where the mom shuts off the circuit breaker, I haven’t seen it..deployed right now, but in our house the conversation would go more along the lines of “Outside now.” and “Because I’m your mother and I told you to!”

  22. Julie March 21, 2011 at 9:46 pm #

    We are actually getting rid of our big 50″ TV, the Xbox, and the DVD player. Should we want to watch the DVD’s that we plan on keeping we can watch them on the laptop (or the desktop if we don’t care about the fact we’d have to sit in the office chairs). Otherwise we can watch Netflix on the laptop or iPad…both of which are kept more off limits and out of reach of kiddo (versus the tv and xbox…which the 20 month old has mastered turning on and off)!! One thing is for sure…my kiddo (and any future ones) will NOT be dependent on me OR electronics for entertainment…and I’m not gonna be sneaky about getting him to run around outside (though I doubt I’ll have to).

  23. DEHausfrau March 21, 2011 at 9:46 pm #

    See, I might do something like this because it would be funny to send my daughter running all over the house… never would occur to me to use something this funny as a way to get her moving (not like she’s ever not in motion)

  24. Liz March 21, 2011 at 9:56 pm #

    She bold-face lied to her kid, in order to deceive her and trick her into exercising. Real nice.

  25. Vicky March 21, 2011 at 10:16 pm #

    And where was the Dad while all this was going on? Even assuming I agreed with the content of the advert (which I don’t), how hard would it have been to change the tagline to “Parents everywhere are logging on to ….”

  26. Planet Mom March 21, 2011 at 10:16 pm #

    Wonder what the advertisers would think of my childhood–the one in which my mom occasionally locked us outside to inspire a closer bond with nature. I can almost hear their collective gasp. ;-D

    And with respect to your point about kids not needing a whole lot of guidance in the figuring-out-how-to-entertain-themselves gig, I thought you might be pleased to learn that my brood and a slew of their neighborhood friends employed a variety of items yesterday in the name of boredom prevention. Of course, that list included but was not limited to a pirate’s knife (which was frighteningly pointy), two hula hoops and tennis racquets, a jump rope (which joined the hula hoops but strangled no one that I am aware of), three swords (gasp!), four scooters (yikes!), a number of basketballs which were hurled into the air with wild abandon, several bicycles (which they rode in the street completely unsupervised for hours!), some sidewalk chalk (which no one choked on) and an abundance of sticks (there weren’t enough swords).

    Perhaps those silly advertisers ought to visit my back yard to be convinced that children can, indeed, think of something to do. Furthermore, they tend to move with little or no prompting from adults.

  27. pebblekeeper March 21, 2011 at 10:52 pm #

    I agree with the comments above, it would have damaged our joy of the day when my boys found the wallet right next to me. Wanna dollar? Here’s a broom. and no about the Fed Gov run ads. I think I see a spot to trim spending right there!

  28. Wayne March 21, 2011 at 11:11 pm #

    My 13 yr old, decided by himself, yesterday to check his bike and take advantage of the spring weather, alone, on his bike for an hour unsupervised. he came back when he wanted to, only because his buddy had to go.

  29. Myriam March 21, 2011 at 11:11 pm #

    That’s really interesting. There’s a similar campaign here in the UK to get children moving for at least an hour a day. Not so long ago that would have seemed beyond ludicrous – the problem always used to be how to get children to stay still occasionally. Very sad.

  30. King Krak, I Smell the Stench March 21, 2011 at 11:19 pm #

    1. There’s no correlation between being “more active” (i.e. 30 secs more) and weight loss.

    2. Hate this ad. Lying to your child is okay? How hard is it to just be honest and say, for example, Soda makes you Fat so we’ll drink other beverages instead…?

  31. dmd March 21, 2011 at 11:22 pm #

    I actually don’t mind this ad – I think it’s cute. If your child has not typically exercised for 20, 30, 40 minutes at a time, it *will* take some getting used to. It pays to be creative.

    I haven’t seen these, however. I guess we don’t watch enough TV. 😉

  32. pentamom March 21, 2011 at 11:24 pm #

    There are situations in which I’ll give my kids a dollar without requiring them to earn it — but never without knowing what it’s for! What’s with this “Can I have a dollar? Sure!” thing?

    Besides what everyone else said — the idea of government telling us to get our kids to exercise, the deception, the hokeyness of the idea that the girl would be tickled pink at having been manipulated, and the idea that only with such ruses could we get our kids to get even a solid 30 seconds of exercise.

    The one point I will make against the “why didn’t she just make the kid go outside” thing — depending on time of year and climate, going outside isn’t very good for exercise. Even if it’s not too brutally cold, it’s hard to do much running and playing with a foot of snow on the ground. So finding ways for your kid to be active inside might not be all bad. But generally, I don’t really think that such lame parenting makes great advertising — usually “modeling-type” advertising is supposed to make you want to be like the people in the ads. I don’t want to be like anyone who’s so self-satisfied over such a small, poorly engineered triumph.

  33. Devil May Care March 22, 2011 at 12:00 am #

    What if you are doing this for no other reason than you think it is funny to make them run all over the place?

  34. Jen Connelly March 22, 2011 at 12:03 am #

    My kids would probably think that’s funny but only because with each send off I’d be losing my cool a little more until I couldn’t keep a straight face any more. But I wouldn’t do it for exercise…more like a game or practical joke and I’d probably give them a treat at the end as a reward for being a good sport.

    I’ve actually thought about doing a scavenger hunt around the neighborhood for the kids. I just haven’t gotten around to making up the sheets, especially since my 4yo can’t read yet. I bet all the kids on the block would have fun.

    But that would just be for fun. I have no problems getting the kids to exercise. Mine and all the kids in the neighborhood are outside all the time even when it’s raining (which is all the time in SW WA). This weekend my 9yo son came in every night covered in mud and sore from playing football and running around with his best buddy (who only comes every other weekend to visit his dad…they have to get a lot of playing in since he’s only here 4 days a month, lol).

    The girl around the corner has a swingset in her yard and my girls come home with shoes caked in mud. Not fun for my floors but the kids are always wore out. It’s more of a fight to keep them inside than make them go out and, other than my very lazy 10yo who is currently grounded until the end of the month, they get plenty of exercise between outside play and recesses/gym at school.

  35. Jen Connelly March 22, 2011 at 12:08 am #

    Oh, I also wanted to comment on this:
    I was listening to the radio yesterday and there was an ad for some summer camp/club thing for kids to keep them out of trouble because ALL teens get into trouble when left with nothing to do so during spring break and the summer they should sign up for this club so they have somewhere to go and have every minute of their summer vacation planned out for them including activities to get them moving.

    When I was a teen we managed to find stuff to do without getting into trouble. The ad basically said the kids would come and they would provide activities that were safe and would keep kids out of trouble the entire summer. I imagine a bunch of bored 13-16yos sitting around a rec room watching TV and playing xbox. Anything to keep them from being independent and outside, exploring their world.

  36. Me March 22, 2011 at 12:09 am #

    The ad doesn’t bother me so much. In our neighborhood it is not safe for me to send my 6 and 5 year old out to play by themselves (and no, I’m not scared of the boogie man). We are right next to a train and a busy street and we don’t have a yard (aahhhh city living) and our neighborhood is FULL of drivers who do not stop at stop signs and drive way too fast and people who do not leash their LARGE dogs (just had a not so nice experience with that over the weekend). Those are the realities of my neighborhood. Believe me, I’d love to send them outside unaccompanied, and part of our fight for that is to sell our condo and move to a house that has a yard/more green areas/closer parks/less fast traffic.

    I spend a lot of time, especially in the dead of winter when it is too cold to be outside trying to figure out fun ways to get my kids moving. Especially by February where jump-roping indoors, scooters around the dining room, chasing the cat, and whatever active Wii games we have have all grown old…I’ll take just about any new idea to get them moving and shaking, although usually there are many reasons I can send them up and down the stairs without lying. However, when I was younger our TV broke over spring break and although my mom had it fixed she didn’t tell me (and my friend) that it was fixed until AFTER spring break. She totally fessed up about it after spring break and told me why she did it. I didn’t trust her less afterwards, I thought it was pretty darn smart of her.

  37. Angie March 22, 2011 at 12:19 am #

    I agree that kids could exercise more but how about telling your kid “i’ll give you the dollar if you run up and down the stairs 3 times to earn it” rather than lying to her. I’d be pissed if I was her daughter.

  38. Jeffrey G March 22, 2011 at 12:34 am #

    What’s wrong with this?

    Mom just lied to her daughter about a dozen times.

  39. Sean March 22, 2011 at 12:39 am #

    I don’t see much wrong with the ad…might be taking it a bit too seriously I think.

    The overall message is to encourage parents to encourage their kids to stay active and healthy. The method used by the parent in the ad was clearly an exaggerated and silly example for the sake of making a humorous commercial that people will remember. The question of what kind of activity the parent should encourage after seeing the commercial is open-ended. Letting the kids play outside and do what they will seems fully compatible with this ad.

    Admittedly, I’m a marketing major.

  40. pacificcoasters March 22, 2011 at 12:49 am #

    Not only the deception, but frankly I don’t let kids go in my purse or wallet. And, a dollar? What does that get? Nothing these days.

  41. Myriam March 22, 2011 at 12:51 am #

    I think there is everything wrong with this ad and that it just about sums up everything that is wrong with modern child-rearing culture. In fact, I vote we put in a time capsule so that people in a 100 years’ time can have a good laugh at just how weird we were.
    You’ve got the concept of exercise as a healthy but otherwise pointless and joyless pursuit (running up and down the stairs pointlessly – a bit like running on a treadmill) which is a thoroughly adult idea and which, in a sane world, wouldn’t apply to children as they would get all the “exercise” they needed running around playing, inside or outside.
    Then you’ve got the idea that, on top of all the other hundreds of wretched hats we’re supposed to be wearing, a good mother is a personal fitness trainer as well. Hate it!

  42. KateNonymous March 22, 2011 at 12:55 am #

    Hahaha! It’s so funny when your parents lie to you about super inconsequential things.

  43. Myriam March 22, 2011 at 1:01 am #

    Oh and that life as parent is just one big endless series of opportunities to improve your child in countless ingenuous ways.

  44. pentamom March 22, 2011 at 1:07 am #

    “Oh and that life as parent is just one big endless series of opportunities to improve your child in countless ingenuous ways.”

    And that it needs to be ingenuous, because the battle is AGAINST your kids, not for them. Perish the thought that we could actually effectively teach our kids that exercise (or something else) is good and get them to want to do it on their own. Everyone knows parents always start out on the losing end of every interaction with their kids and therefore must resort to gimmicks.

  45. pentamom March 22, 2011 at 1:16 am #

    “And, a dollar? What does that get? Nothing these days.”

    Well, not quite. A candy bar. Any non-taxable item at the dollar store (in this state, any food or clothing item). Admission to a second run theater on a weeknight. A can of soda at many vending machines. Quite a bit of trinkety stuff at Walmart (my daughter was amassing quite the $1 bandanna collection last year.) A school lunch at least around here. A small amount of bulk produce of some kinds.

    And maybe she had a dollar and wanted another?

    It’s not that a dollar is wholly unrealistic for a kid of that age, it’s the parent not even asking — not even apparently having it OCCUR to her to ask — what the kid might want it for. Apparently she’s got a money tree in her backyard, and is more obsessed with getting her child to exercise for a whole 30 seconds, than with teaching her sensible spending habits, which at a minimum involve the ideas that money doesn’t come automatically and you should think before you spend it.

    Yes, I know, it’s a commercial, but either realism or aspirationalism is important if you want your audience to identify with the actors. It would take about one second longer for the kid to say “Can I have a dollar for lunch tomorrow” and it would make an intelligent viewer far more likely to want to identify with the mom if she didn’t come off like a total idiot.

  46. Marie March 22, 2011 at 1:32 am #

    I’m with Lola. I’d usually make my kids earn the extra money. One would hope that a kid asking for a dollar is about to head outside in some way anyhow, and so adding in exercise would hardly be needed, especially if you let the kid walk to the store with friends or whatever the plan is. If wherever she wants to go is within walking distance, refuse to drive and she gets her exercise, no deception necessary.

  47. JP March 22, 2011 at 1:52 am #

    Well, first of all, there’s the age of the kid……………
    psst! remember all those years in school when an average class of 30 held the one token fat kid?
    All the rest of us were somewhere on the upside of normal size…
    Because we got all the excercise we ever needed doing all the regular things we had to do each and every day.
    There was indoors…
    And then there was outdoors. Outdoors was freedom, escape, and just where we always wanted to be. Didn’t matter doing what – just out.

    The schoolbell rang at the end of the day and we exploded out the doors just like critical mass. Nothing could have enticed us into vehicular servitude. It would never have occurred to us.

    And what the hell does money have to do with it, anyway? I grew up with an awful lot of po’ kids.
    Lack of money never kept us from doing anything.

    Perhaps we need to know a little more about what kind of neighborhood these folks live in (but need we really ask? We already know the answer.)
    In my neighborhood that kid would already be out the door…dollar or no.

    Point is, our parents used to have to fight to keep us inside…completely the opposite.

    Whatever the message is, about exercise and its inherent values – it was a complete given that a normal childhood provided all that was necessary.
    Had nothing to do with health, wealth or good psychology: it was just fun. It was what freedom felt like.

  48. Larry Harrison March 22, 2011 at 2:01 am #

    I raise my kids to be independent with their play, and they are–so much so, they are much better at it than our 3 nieces & nephews, who are OLDER but not raised that way. Thus, when they visit, they can only stay here in short bursts.

    With 5 kids together as one (my 2 & those 3), you’d think all 5 just playing would be easy enough to do. Instead the other 3 pester, while our 2, younger though they are, do just fine. That’s just ridiculous.


  49. Tuppence March 22, 2011 at 2:16 am #

    I can actually find a good thing to say about this ad — I’m happy to see that people in America are waking up to the idea that childhood obesity probably has much more to do with children’s “life as lived in a retirement community”, daily sum of movement, rather than the food they eat — I mean McDonald’s was there when we were kids. And soda. We were eating Fluffernutter and Goober’s Grape Peanut Butter and Jelly, for cryin out loud. The demonizing of food thing was/is really weird. The obsession with it seemed to correlate with the rise in helicopter parenting, but how and whether they relate, I’m not sure.

    But alas, this ad indicates that, instead of the much hoped for a ha! moment: It’s not the devil disguised as junk food, turning us into sinners, after all! — What we need here is for children to run around and play play play — hasn’t materialized.

    Whadda wanna bet next commercial will be about how parents should “get involved” by signing their kids up for sports activities? As if organized sports can hold a candle to playing SPUD with the whole neighborhood for hours. Difference in calories burned? Well, how many calories can you burn waiting around in a field to catch a softball? Fun factor? Fahgettaboutit.

    When I think of the neighborhood games of kickball, hide & seek, kick the can, and so on. And then think of the (thank gawd) one and only season I was on the softball league, I couldn’t feel sorrier for the kids these days.

  50. Aaron March 22, 2011 at 2:20 am #

    I am usually in agreement with most of the things you all talk about here, but I have to say I disagree with your opposition to this advert, with the only exception being the lying. Perhaps I am mistaken but it seems that let’s move seems to have a good agenda, and the snark doesn’t seem fitting for the crime they apparently committed.

    So the mom is getting her kid to do something, in an attempt to keep her kid fit. Yes, it is small, but they have to advertise within the confines of the commercials time constraints. Perhaps in a better commercial she would have had the kid vacuum, wash the car, or perform some tack to earn the dollar but I don’t think lets move is battling something simple. They are taking on a legion of children who are baby-sat by video games, and raised with values extracted from television.

    Encouraging a parent to be mindful of their children’s exercise (or lack of) doesn’t deserve disdain. Perhaps a “nice try” would be more fitting or maybe even contacted lets move and suggested something that didn’t involve lying.

    I do love this site and what it represents, but it really seems like L wants to be mad at something.

  51. Jordan Hall March 22, 2011 at 2:26 am #

    I couldn’t have said it better myself. Thank you for speaking some truth! As a psychotherapist, I see way too many cases of wrongly diagnosed ADHD in kids that really just need more time to run and play and less time inside having to sit still.

  52. Lihtox March 22, 2011 at 2:30 am #

    The lying was what caught my attention too. Though come to think of it, this isn’t an unreasonable scenario, in a family where harmless pranking was the norm (and the kids gave as good as they got). But this wouldn’t work for most families, I don’t think.

    I wonder if our reactions would be different if it had been a father rather than a mother in the ad? (Fathers are classically the jokers in the family.) The specific reference to *moms* here irritated me just as much as the deception.

  53. Cheryl W March 22, 2011 at 2:44 am #

    I kind of got the impression that after the girl got the money she was going to go do something without mom, because mom was busy cooking. That means going to the store or something. Free Range.

    Wish I had a house big enough to have my kids run around that much!

  54. EricS March 22, 2011 at 2:59 am #

    LOL! I saw that commercial over the weekend. I thought it was pretty dumb too. I agree with all points from Lenore, and I’ll add this. Why wasn’t the mother being “active” WITH her daughter, instead of instructing from the kitchen? Freakin’ LAZY. I’ve always been a firm believer of “lead by example”. Like I always say, it’s not really about the kids “safety and health”, it’s about the convenience for the parents, that makes our kids lazy, insecure, and clueless to the real world.

  55. Cheryl W March 22, 2011 at 3:00 am #

    “Even if it’s not too brutally cold, it’s hard to do much running and playing with a foot of snow on the ground.”

    I beg to differ. Having grown up in upstate NY during the “Mini Ice Age” of the 70’s, I can tell you there is plenty to do. Three of us kids, one year apart and 11 years old (about) my mom would send us outside all the time. We dug in the snow. We made tunnels in the snow. We made games with trails in the snow. We tried to find mice and things in the snow. And, of course, we sledded, pulled each other around on sleds, took hikes (and sometimes got boots stuck in the snow and had to run home and get parents) and fell through the snow into streams (and had to run home before our feet froze) and ice skated. There is plenty to do in the snow… you just have to think about it a bit and have a parent who refuses to let you back in too soon!

    My kids love recreating Calvin and Hobbes Comics. The only sad thing is we live on a small street so they can’t show them off properly.

  56. EricS March 22, 2011 at 3:06 am #

    @ salisburydowns: But what is the point of getting her to run all over the house? Why not just get her outside and run around off the bat? Kind of like telling your kid to take a shower to get wet before jumping into the pool (not a public pool).

  57. EricS March 22, 2011 at 3:10 am #

    @ Cheryl W: I loved trudging through snow half my height. It was great. Me and my friends would pretend we were in Arctic hiding from Abominable Snowmen, jumping into the snow to take cover. And this was just on the way home from school. We were tired and wet by the time we got home, but we were all laughing and having a good ol time. Looking forward to it again the next day. We also learned to stay away from the yellow and brown snow. lol

  58. pentamom March 22, 2011 at 3:49 am #

    Cheryl, that’s true. I was thinking of really “aerobic” exercise, but there’s no reason I should have been limiting it to that.

    I do know that my kids, even though they’re certainly out and about and active enough when the weather’s good, do get bored pretty fast in an endless sea of white. They do build snow forts and such, but it palls after a while.

  59. Thomas Stazyk March 22, 2011 at 3:51 am #

    The scary thing is that someone (who has the ability to spend tax dollars) thinks that parents are that stupid.

  60. pentamom March 22, 2011 at 3:53 am #

    The whole tenor of the thing was sort of a smug sense of “Ha! I got her to move!” on the part of the mom, not merely “hey, doesn’t hurt to get in an extra thirty seconds!”

    The voiceover is that moms are “finding ways to get kids active and healthy.” As though this isn’t just a bit of icing on the cake of the kid who was going out to run around anyway, but way that was “found” to “get her” active.

  61. Jane Howard March 22, 2011 at 3:55 am #

    The biggest problem here is why are our tax dollars being spent so the government can find ‘creative’ (and untruthful) ways to get kids off their butts and running around?

    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this out – take away the video games, all-day TV watching, etc., and buy your kids a bike, sign them up for sports leagues, dancing lessons or whatever it takes to get them active. Duh.

  62. Jenny Islander March 22, 2011 at 3:57 am #

    @Jordan Hall: I can just remember how the “big kids” (the first and second graders) who didn’t pay attention in class were sent to run around the central cafeteria/gym room until they were tired enough to concentrate on math. We K students could see them from the open classroom door and so could all the other classes. They could stay out of class as long as they liked if they just kept running.

    They all graduated.

  63. beth March 22, 2011 at 4:04 am #

    @Eric S, could we declare a moratorium on calling parents “lazy” who aren’t actively engaged with their children 100% of the time? The mom in the kitchen, or ANY mom in the kitchen, is not necessarily being lazy because she isn’t running around and/or playing with her kids. Isn’t that part of Free Range – our kids being able to play without constant parental involvement and direction?

  64. PaulW March 22, 2011 at 4:54 am #

    No one seems to have noticed the obvious danger this child has been needlessly placed in. This so-called ‘mother’ has her child running up and down stairs needlessly over and over. I don’t know the exact number, but I think I read somewhere that over 120,000 kids fall down stairs every year. Breaking bones or worse!

    The next commercial should be of the mother being taken away by Child Protective Services. The daughter can excercise by chasing the car taking her mother to jail.

    [The above was all written with my tongue (typing fingers?) firmly in my cheek. I pulled a page out of the media playbook and made up that statistic. Please don’t anyone take me seriously. 🙂 ]

  65. Catspaw March 22, 2011 at 5:14 am #

    Am kinda glad here in New Zealand, that primary schools are required to have kids active a certain amount of class time each day.

    Had Mr 8’s birthday party at the weekend, 3 other boys came over, 2 free ranged, one not, was interesting the non free ranged thought playing was rugby or soccer and very preset rules based, could not cope with the imaginary (clone wars based) game the other kids were playing. Was also just not used to playing without a parent. First time I’ve ever had to tell a kid the rules to a water fight…..

  66. mamamezzo March 22, 2011 at 5:30 am #

    It’s not the worst thing I’ve ever seen but, in addition to your issues, it suggests that kids need to be tricked into and/or paid for exercising. Just a bummer.

  67. Dreamer March 22, 2011 at 5:34 am #

    No, not the best commercial ever, and I don’t like the deceptive parenting model.

    HOWEVER, if our mutual goal is to effect cultural change and promote a healthier, more active, and less circumscribed, fear-ridden childhood, I think we can be on the same team.

  68. Cheryl W March 22, 2011 at 6:05 am #

    Pentamom, are your kids old enough to read Calvin and Hobbes? There are some great snowmen in there just waiting to be created in real life…lol!

    No, I do get it, I remember spending hours under a table with a blanket on it because we were able to keep quiet and not bother anyone or argue. It does take some changing up sometime. Fortunately there is spring, and when the snow melts, that is a whole other bunch of fun playing in the water.

  69. Sean March 22, 2011 at 7:01 am #

    Wow, not a day goes by that I don’t lie to my kids to make them exercise. LOL. How many days is that crap going to fly? And what will be the result?

    [long whistle]

  70. Sean March 22, 2011 at 7:02 am #

    I pay taxes for THIS?

  71. Devil May Care March 22, 2011 at 7:16 am #

    I am kind of amazed at how much outrage there is about teasing ones child. Lying? If nothing else perhaps this commercial can teach a bunch of adults about proportion. There is a world of difference between leading a child on a wild goose chase and malicious deceit.

  72. Joie March 22, 2011 at 7:35 am #

    I am with you Anne-
    All I have seen from a few of these “Let’s Move” commercials is that it shows it is alright to lie to get your desired outcome. No need for integrity according to these commercials. Just disgusting!!!!

  73. chris March 22, 2011 at 7:44 am #

    I tease my kids all the time, they expect it! Yesterday I was telling my daughter that the pictures of giant burgers at McDonalds were part of their new family sized meals where you cut the burger into wedges and serve them like you would a pizza. Today my daughter also learned from me that the way they obtain sea salt is with a giant ocean-sieve. Usually now she laughs, rolls her eyes and says “Dad, really?”
    but sometimes it’s fun to keep her going for a while 🙂

  74. Mel March 22, 2011 at 8:33 am #

    This ad just makes me sad. Kid wants money, parent lies to get child active. That sums up some of our American households, YIKES!!!

  75. steve March 22, 2011 at 8:37 am #

    Seems silly to me. In my house:

    Summer: it’s nice outside. Go. Play.
    Winter: go to the basement. play.


  76. bmj2k March 22, 2011 at 8:38 am #

    Sooo, how long does this teasing go on until the kid snaps? I’m not sure I’d play with a dog that way.

  77. JoAnna March 22, 2011 at 9:02 am #

    What’s wrong with kids playing outside “with us”? I know a lot of adults who need to get outside and get some exercise through play, too! If more parents would just play with their kids, not only would our nation be physically healthier, we might have better connections with our kids.

  78. Kris March 22, 2011 at 9:11 am #

    @Tuppence – SPUD!!!!! I LOVED SPUD!!!!

    That game was the best. It got me thinking about the thrill I’d feel at the very beginning of a kickball game as the very first ball headed toward home plate… or the smell of the first reasonably warm day when I would wait at the front door until an “acceptable” time to go out and play (9:30a) that wouldn’t make my mom look bad for sending me out… or our annual tradition of clearing out the woods behind our house and building trails that would last all season… or spending 6 straight hours in the pool and leaning over the side to down PB&J sandwiches… or cruising around the cul de sac down the street on our Big Wheels, dirt bikes and finally a 10-speed (WOW!!!)…

    Did I mention we played outside? By “we” I mean myself and the neighborhood kids… I’m an only child.

    Can’t wait to pass the torch to my little guy as soon as he can walk!

  79. Devil May Care March 22, 2011 at 9:16 am #

    @bmj2k: Can we dispense with the foolish notion that kids are fragile? If this will cause a kid to snap, they should be put down like a mad dog. I am sick of a twisted society churning out damaged children that fracture with a modicum of pressure.

    I’ve never had a dog snap when I pretended to throw the ball.

  80. Kimberly March 22, 2011 at 9:59 am #

    I haven’t seen one of these “Lets Move” PSAs I do like. They all involve tricking kids not Talking or setting a good example. Some ideas friends and I came up with on another site that would be better.

    Family planting, harvesting, cooking and eating food from their gardens.

    Kids want to go to the park and play, but the streets are not built to accommodate bikes/walking safely. Parents and kids get together, write up a petition, the kids take it around the neighborhood, parents to work, parents and kids man booths at events. Kids make posters, while the adults sit at tables counting signatures and preparing speeches. Kids and parents go to city council meeting (with kids posters). New Hike and bike trails are put in. Now the kids take off happily on their bikes. (this one is from my childhood. Except it started with me being forced off the road (I was riding my bike in the designated bike lane) into a deep ditch by a traffic and the school bus driver seeing, stopping and helping me.)

    Parents teaching kids games from their childhood, fast forward now they are the grandparents, watching their adult kids teach their children.

    How about kids urging their parents to get up and do something active?

  81. SKL March 22, 2011 at 10:51 am #

    I dislike most ads. Maybe that’s why I don’t watch TV.

    But I agree that modeling lying is a no-no.

    And also, what is learned from this ad? Nothing of lasting value. Neither the parent nor the child has done anything that will produce a continuing benefit, healthwise or otherwise. So we spent money to accomplish what?

    When my kids need encouragement to move, like in the crappy dark winter evenings, I just make it so there’s no other choice. For example, they like to go to the McDonald’s Play Place, both to eat and to play. Aside from ordering a light and reasonably nutritious meal, and letting them work it off for a while on the climbing equipment, I’ll park the car a block or so away so we have to walk to & from, through the elements. I am not afraid to tell them that it’s because we all need as much exercise as we can get. I also don’t want kids who are afraid of a little cold or rain.

    The other day someone tried to talk me into buying the kids raincoats. What for? When do they ever go play in the rain? When we were kids, we had to walk to & from school every day, and maybe deliver a paper route, regardless of the weather. We needed raincoats. My kids probably never will. We don’t need raincoats to take a brisk walk from the car to the school or whatever.

  82. Larry Harrison March 22, 2011 at 11:28 am #

    Joanna The problem is this–you end up becoming their sole source for entertainment. An adult should not have their life 100% hijacked by a needy kid who needs to instead place with people their own age–that is, other kids.


  83. Robin March 22, 2011 at 11:48 am #

    What I find most offensive about these adds is that it’s aimed at mom only. Where’s dad? Have we made them completely irrelevant now?

    I agree with the earlier poster who said it’s not teaching them anything long term. Do we want all of their exercise to come from running around the house? I think that might get old really fast!

    If mom is going to do anything, it should be to convince the other moms in the neighborhood to let their kids out without them.

  84. Cheryl W March 22, 2011 at 12:34 pm #

    SKL, where was that store with the raincoats? My kids LOVE to play in the rain, and their coats are too small! And, as we home school, recess IS outside regardless of weather, school rules!

    And I think they should use you as an advertisement. “Want to go play? We have to walk!” That is great!

    We live on a private dirt road with the mailbox at the end. I regularly walk with all kids to check it. (Yes, I could leave them home alone, and sometimes do, but usually it is an excuse to leave the studies and get moving.) If we are coming home from shopping or some place, I check it and encourage the kids to run on home in front of me.

    Oh, and something to get them moving that I couldn’t have paid enough money for – a pile of wood chips (slowly composting) that the previous owners got for mulching flowerbeds. My kids (girl and boys) all love going out and digging in it. The best thing is, I got more free from the company that was clearing the utility lines. I really cannot count the hours that they have played in it.

    All in all, I think that they could come up with better things to do. Lets make a list and send it to them. With all of us here, from vastly different situations, we should be able to come up with a lot!

  85. Tuppence March 22, 2011 at 5:14 pm #

    @ Kris — Ah, the rite-of-passage that a 10-speed bike symbolized! If you were lucky enough to score a dip in someone’s pool, you weren’t getting out anytime soon (thus p&j eaten in situ). How about all the jump rope games and rhymes? (Providing Kris is a girl’s and not a boy’s name, of course.) Me and my BFF could spend houuurs.

    Always remember “back in the day” stuff as great for being a kid, but now looking at it as a parent — Kid off at 9:30 to spend the ENTIRE day (you know it was!) running around in the fresh air and sunshine — I’m so jealous!!!!

  86. pentamom March 22, 2011 at 9:26 pm #

    “Pentamom, are your kids old enough to read Calvin and Hobbes? There are some great snowmen in there just waiting to be created in real life…lol! ”

    Most of them are too old, but do it anyway, just like me! LOL

    Oh, I know and they know the possibilities are out there. It’s just not their thing. I’m fine with that. They don’t get as much exercise during the winter, but they don’t get none, (shoveling counts for something after all!) and they certainly make up for it the rest of the year, so it just isn’t an issue for me.

  87. pentamom March 22, 2011 at 9:30 pm #

    For me, the distinction between teasing (I do it all the time!) and lying is that that lying is a form of manipulation — getting them to believe something because it will change what they think about a situation and cause them to act differently, than if they knew the truth. And not just for the duration of the “joke,” such as getting them to bend down to check their shoe laces, but for some outside end that is actually *against* what they would do if they knew the truth. If that little girl really wouldn’t run up and down the steps if she knew the truth because she hates exercising, that’s manipulative lying, which is different from “you know that meatballs grown on trees, right?”

    Teasing is just a joke — I’m not trying to get anything out of it, except a laugh for everyone.

  88. Dave March 22, 2011 at 9:53 pm #

    Make it easy. Don’t drive the kid to school, let them walk to the store. How about a bike if where they need to go is far away. If we lessened our dependance on our cars and added gym and free time back in school we wouldn’t need stupid commercials to make parents feel even more incompetent to raise their children.

  89. SKL March 22, 2011 at 10:18 pm #

    Yes, since this is about the government stepping in, shouldn’t they first start with the obvious – government-run stuff like schools? They curtail/punish kids’ movement to, from, and in schools, and then act like it’s the parents’ fault the kids are sedentary.

    It’s like banning happy meals while serving unhealthy school lunches every day of the week.

  90. wellcraftedtoo March 22, 2011 at 10:21 pm #

    I agree with some of posters; this is a cute commercial aimed at getting parents to start thinking more about getting kids moving–in any and all ways. Kind of like the campaigns to get adults to wear pedometers and to just ‘take more steps’–in any way possible.

    But, I do like your comments, Lenore. Blunt, to the point, and spot on: as long as we all, adults and kids alike, are living sedentary lives (as most of our lives require that we do) moving takes a back seat, and a decline in fitness is near inevitable.

  91. wellcraftedtoo March 22, 2011 at 10:29 pm #

    Forgot to say:

    The idea that a minute or so of stair climbing doesn’t do much to promote fitness needs reconsideration…

    I’ve started stair climbing (something I did years ago when I couldn’t jog in the winter) again, and it is VERY effective at developing aerobic capacity.

    Not to mention strengthening, and trimming, legs, hips, gluts, etc.

    None other than fitness guru, Bob Greene, suggests that a ‘mere’ 10 minutes several times a week is a laudable goal.

    That’s easier than it sounds, though: try stair climbing for 10 continuous minutes!!

  92. Emiky March 22, 2011 at 11:18 pm #

    I don’t have too many issues with the ad. My big thing is that running up and down is the epitome of movement here. I get it, baby steps, but it’s still a sad commentary.

    I also think different play needs to be accepted. I loved being outside and still do. But I am not nor was athletic, rambunctious, etc. My outside play wasn’t terribly active. I was usually living in the woods as a princess or an animal or something, not playing sports.

  93. Uly March 23, 2011 at 12:05 am #

    Most of them are too old, but do it anyway, just like me! LOL

    No such thing as Too Old for C&H!

    Or for any story that you enjoy, really. You don’t want to know what I’m like when a new Elephant and Piggie comes out…. (But I do read more grown-up books upon occasion!)

  94. sonya March 23, 2011 at 1:12 am #

    I don’t have any problem getting my younger daughter to exercise. When the weather permits she’d happily spend most of her time in the garden running around and playing. The problem is that she’s like someone else to play with, but we don’t live in walking distance of any other kids, and her older sister gets so much homework that she has limited time to play. So I do play with her outside, at least until I get worn out. To me the problem is (a) too much homework for my older daughter, so that she doesn’t get enough outside time (b) communities that aren’t designed for kids to hang out together. If we want to get kids moving, we should do something about those!

  95. sonya March 23, 2011 at 1:13 am #

    Sorry, that should say “she’d like” not “she’s like”

  96. Devil May Care March 23, 2011 at 1:15 am #

    @pentamom: You worry too much. Where do you draw the line? If I tell them that spinach will make them strong, am I lying? I am exaggerating. When Calvin’s father tells Calvin that the reason the photographs are black and white is because there was no color back then, is that lying (Calvin’s father is one of my role models)?

    If your child is too lazy to move around, you are right, you shouldn’t trick them into running up and down the stairs. You should just make them. Perhaps take all their things and give them back one item for every mile they run….

    Anyway, I need to pry my child from the computer and force him into the public pool soon.

  97. Mika March 23, 2011 at 1:41 am #

    I don’t mind this ad at all! It is like those people that encourage adults to park farther away from the store so they have to walk further. It isn’t going to cause anything grand in terms of health, but it gets someone thinking about their health a little bit more. That’s all -raise awareness and consciousness.
    Sometimes on a day that we’ve been cooped up in the house due to the weather or something I make up fun games for my kids that are a bit more physical.

  98. pentamom March 23, 2011 at 1:45 am #

    I don’t worry at all about this stuff, DMC, I just have certain views. I’m not “worried” about what happens when you lie to your kids, I just think it’s wrong. Perhaps you don’t see that a distinction is being made between “I think that’s wrong” and “I think that terrible things will happen as a result of doing it once.”

    And if you can’t see the difference between Calvin’s Dad joking about black and white (something we’ve ALSO done with our kids) besides the fact that he isn’t REAL, and using deception as a means of actual child-rearing, no amount of explaining will probably help. But really, in the end, we agree — if your kids need to run around more, tell them to. That’s why manipulative lying is unnecessary, so why defend it?

  99. pentamom March 23, 2011 at 1:46 am #

    Uly, that’s what the LOL was for. You’re never too old for C&H, but some of us aren’t the target audience anymore.

  100. Jessica March 23, 2011 at 2:15 am #

    I have an idea for getting kids moving. Actually I have several!

    — Buy them a bike
    — Buy a jump rope
    — Take them to the park… even better, send them on their bike to the park with a friend and said jump rope!


  101. Susan March 23, 2011 at 3:52 am #

    A couple months ago I started letting my 5 and 7 year olds ride their bikes and scooters around our neighborhood (as opposed to just on our block, as before).

    Every day after school and every weekend, they beg to go riding together. They ride, they go to the park, the play basketball at the school.

    It’s a lot more than 1 minute of exercise.

  102. Gillian March 23, 2011 at 6:21 am #

    Since when is running around the house exercise? If that was the case, I’d be the picture of fitness!

  103. brenna March 23, 2011 at 9:27 am #

    OMG I thought that was so stupid. I haven’t seen any of the others, but the main problem & that the gov’t is involved. They really know how to make something so simple oh so complicated. How hard would have been to suggest he daughter go out & play or go for a bike ride?

  104. SKL March 23, 2011 at 10:13 am #

    When I was that age, if my mom wanted me to move my butt, she would have sent me on foot to the grocery store.

  105. bmj2k March 23, 2011 at 11:20 am #

    @Devil May Care
    Who says kids are fragile? I am giving them more credit than that, for not wanting to put up with mom’s daily nonsense and telling her to shove it. Cool off and read with comprehension. Jeez, you’re the one saying to put the kid down like a dog.

  106. bequirox March 23, 2011 at 12:56 pm #

    Tuppence, you have literally caused an epiphany for me. I have been so focused on food, and calories, and number servings/serving sizes, etc. I haven’t taken into account activity levels. Does that make me an idiot? I hope not.

    When I was a kid, almost all of our dinners involved either potatoes or cheese, and most of them had both. Lunch was PB sandwiches. Breakfast was cold cereal. That’s a lot of carbs. But I was never overweight, in fact, I was downright skinny. And I just now realized it’s because my mom made me go outside and she refused to drive me places, so if I wanted to get somewhere, I had to walk.

    You have no idea how relieved I feel, to know that the particular things I feed my family aren’t as important as whether or not they’re going outside and playing. It’s like a huge weight (the weight of an obese child) has been lifted off my shoulders.

  107. Devil May Care March 23, 2011 at 1:13 pm #

    @bmj2k: You did. If a little bit of teasing will provoke a reaction worth noting, they are two fragile. If the child snaps and tells a parent to “shove it.” They are obviously undisciplined and the parent has been too lax.

    I read with comprehension. I suspect you are unclear with what you were writing.

    If they are so fragile you would be doing everyone a favor, sadly it is not legal.

  108. Tuppence March 23, 2011 at 6:02 pm #

    @bequirox — Being an expat (American living in Germany), gives a person a great opportunity to re-exam the “truths” of homeland. (Once I was open to it — initially, I was really sniffy about the “indifference” the inhabitants here had regarding certain “evil” foods. Not easy for us Americans to admit we’re not right about everything, is it?)

    The “food is to blame for all our woes” idea, just doesn’t exist here. The chocolate here tastes great and the people eat it. A lot! And consume lots of ice cream and cake, not to mention beer. Children are offered bon bons in stores. Low fat milk costs 6 cents LESS than full fat. And so it should! They’re taking something out after all. And yet, the visible difference in overweight adults and children in the US compared to here is staggering.

    It’s very much like it used to be back home when it comes to kids and food — The universal truth is recognized: Kids love junk. Let ’em have a little of it, and on special occasions a lot of it!

    But here they also believe in children getting OUTSIDE and playing. But not because it burns calories. I mean, is that why your mother sent you out? No. Again, it’s just understood that that’s what kids need.

    My mother sends my daughter the American magazine Spider for children. I was so upset over the last issue. Apparently, because Easter’s coming up – and all that naughty naughty candy from the Easter Bunny is going to be consumed – they had story after story of the horrors of eating too many sweets. I nearly threw the thing across the room.

    PS: Another expat, in France, also noticed this (plenty of wine, plenty of cheese and plenty of skinny broads), and wrote a book called French Women Don’t Get Fat. I think the main idea was: Enjoyment of delicious food better than too much “it’s doesn’t taste good, but I’ll shovel it in cause it’s low calories” food.

  109. Timkenwest March 24, 2011 at 12:34 am #

    I’m not American, and I’m a little late to the party with this comment, but I wanted to add that I’d be pretty offended if my government was putting out ads telling me to manipulate my children in to getting extra minutes of exercise while at the same time supporting the elimination of recess.

  110. pentamom March 24, 2011 at 2:59 am #

    Tuppence, I’ve probably said it a hundred times, and I’ll say it again — Americans don’t understand the concept of “treats” anymore. I suspect it’s because we over-indulge our kids and ourselves generally, and so we think that if we say it’s okay to have some cake for dessert, that’s the same thing as saying it’s okay to eat as much cake as you want, whenever you want. We just don’t know how to do anything in moderation, so we want to fix the problem by targeting certain objects (e.g. food) and behaviors as evil, and eschewing them entirely.

    And I’m saying that from right here in the good ol’ USA, having spent a total of less than a month outside these borders, no more than two weeks at a time.

  111. Donna March 24, 2011 at 5:34 am #

    @ Tuppence – The problem isn’t that certain foods are evil, it’s that we eat too damn much of everything. We eat crappy and our servings of it are HUGE. Sweets aren’t at fault. It’s sweets combined with fried foods, chips, prepared foods, pizza, etc., all supersized and eaten every day.

    We went to an all you can eat buffet on Sunday. The place was full and there were probably only 5 people in the whole place who were not obese. Adults and children all obese and all with plates piled high with fried chicken, fried okra, mac & cheese, French fries, mashed potatoes, rolls and several desserts. And it was clear that many patrons frequented this place.

    That’s the difference I’ve seen between Europe and the US – an endless supply of huge quantities of food. The French paradox (the French eat highly fattening food and yet remain thin and fairly heart disease free) is caused, in large part, by the fact that they really don’t consume that many calories each day since they eat small portions.

  112. Tuppence March 24, 2011 at 5:37 pm #

    @Donna & @Pentamom — TOO funny you wrote about “treats”, I had a whole bit about treats in my initial post, but took it out cause it was getting really long winded. Anyway, EXACTLY.

    That’s what was so annoying about the “Easter issue” of the American children’s magazine my daughter was reading. Couldn’t miss the opportunity to wag a finger at excessive amounts of sweets, now could they? It’s a teaching moment! For Pete’s sake. Excessive amounts of chocolate at Easter is an exception to the rule, in other words — a treat! Children deserve a treat like anyone else does. They should be able to enjoy the treat that Easter brings, sans explicit or implicit nagging, whether they are overweight or not. Yeah, somehow Americans are so freaky about this.

    Maybe it’s like, god forbid there should be a gray area: “This food is not great for you, but ..” stop right there in America. Food not great for you. Ban it! In Europe they’d finish the sentence: “but, if you don’t eat too much of it, IT’S FINE.”

    Today Lenore’s Twitter column has a plea to stop measuring kids (as in BMI). I couldn’t agree more. It’s all so weird. If less fussing and more letting go were happening, kid would be moving more and nature would take its course. And “The Obesity Issue OMG!” (cue dramatic music and unfortunate camera shots of overweight kids walking down the street) would resolve itself.

    You know, sometimes I get the impression the media here in Germany is envious at the command the media in the US enjoys – by means of its scare tactics – and seeks to do same. Last night on TV was a report about the “hidden” high calories in our favorite lunches. Felt like home. Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail.

  113. Tuppence March 24, 2011 at 6:43 pm #

    @Donna — meant to write you separately, but acc. put your name above, too.

    I know Americans love em some lots and lots of cheap food. But I maintain that the biggest “life style” problem, and indeed, difference to European lifestyles, is the lack of movement. The entire car culture so beloved by Americans, doesn’t exist here to the same extent. Drive up/thru pharmacies would be considered perverse. The only drive thru they have here is McDonald’s. And speaking of McDonald’s. . .

    The biggest problem I had with the movie Super Size Me (and I had several), was that part of his experiment was to STOP WALKING like a Manhattanite. Well, all bets are off in claiming a causal relationship any experiment (even one as unscientific as his), if all other factors aren’t kept constant. And of course this factor — movement — may indeed have been key.

    As I’m sure you know, obesity is on the rise in European countries, too. You wouldn’t know that from where I live, but I live in a city — and city living means moving around. Even if you take public transportation everywhere, you will move more than taking a car. But if I go to on the countryside here, I notice there are more (nuttin like the US, but still) very overweight people. My guess; Cars used more often where there is no public transport = less movement = weight gain. I don’t think their eating habits are significantly different from their countrymen in the city.

    More overweight kids nowadays: What’s the difference between kids these days and us? Crap food? Nope, we did that. Tons of television? Now there’s a difference: “Tons” of TV in our day meant you spent all of Sat. AM watching TV. It was over by, what was it?, 11AM? Then children’s programming ended. Tough toenails. Time to go outside. Nowdays you’ve got whole channels devoted to children’s programming alone. Kids can spend the WHOLE DAY watching TV.
    We moved SO much more than kids today do.

  114. Tuppence March 24, 2011 at 6:57 pm #

    Ha! I just had a funny thought to bridge the last comments I wrote back to the original post.

    If the government wants to involve itself in combating childhood obesity and actually really be effective, it should ban all-day children’s television programming! Psst. not gonna happen.

  115. Donna March 24, 2011 at 10:58 pm #

    Yes, we had crap but none of the people I knew ate it in large quantities every day. When I was a child, eating out was an occasional treat. 99% of the meals were homecooked meals. And food was expensive. Each child didn’t get his own chicken breast and steak.

    Today I have friends who almost never cook meals. Every meal fed to their kids is fast food, take out or restaurants. If they eat at home, it’s packaged meals. And kids get adult portions. And portions are much larger. A grocery store, hormone-fed chicken breast is twice the size of the chickens of our childhood.

    Weight gain is not complicated. To maintain your weight, you cannot consume more calories than you burn. Source of calories is irrelevant. If you are active enough, you can maintain your weight eating nothing but chocolate.

    So, yes children (and adults) need to move more. But that’s only half the battle. Even if children today moved as much as we did, they would still be overweight. You can’t consume twice as much food, move the same and not gain weight. Kids in europe, big cities, active populations can eat more crap but even they have a limit before the overconsumption kicks in, as you are starting to see in areas of Germany.

  116. Tuppence March 24, 2011 at 11:33 pm #

    Donna, obviously it’s the case that calories burned, must equal be greater than calories consumed, etc etc. But I still think Americans focus too much (obsess, one might say) on food. The upshot of has been to “demonize” certain foods — McDonald’s come to mind (I wonder why??) The implicit idea being, if those foods go away, our problems will go away.

    As you write, it is one side of the coin. Why all the (intense) focus on over consumption of food? Why the talk of taxing junk food rather than talk of taxing gasoline. If gasoline in the US cost what it does in Germany, believe me the dang kids there would be WALKING to soccer practice.

    When I go back to the US, I can’t help but remark that the cars are a metaphor for the people: They keep getting bigger and bigger. Car culture in the US has a lot to answer for.

  117. Tuppence March 24, 2011 at 11:57 pm #

    Actually Donna, your point about the 99% homecooked meals brings up something I muse about — What price the dissolution of the housewife?

  118. Franco Tarulli March 29, 2011 at 6:13 pm #

    Am I the only one troubled by the mom’s flat out lying to her daughter?

  119. Devil May Care March 29, 2011 at 10:14 pm #

    @Franco: No, there are several others obsessing over that. Frankly I think it is stupid. What is art, fiction, etc but lies? No wonder the world is becoming dull and lifeless. People also tend to live in a particularly binary universe with no sense of proportion or degree.

  120. Amanda April 6, 2011 at 4:48 am #

    @Franco: No, my husband and I thought the same thing when we saw this on TV. Not to mention, what kid would actually fall for this in real life?

  121. Sky April 7, 2011 at 5:08 am #

    Well, I just got my kids to move by sending them to check the mail. Okay, they were already playing outside and I shouted out the window for them to get it. But it didn’t work since they just came running in, “Can we please, please, please, please go to Friendly’s to get this?!?” and holding up a direct mail flyer advertising the new 3-scoop sundae topped with a chocolate dipped peep.

  122. Sky April 7, 2011 at 5:09 am #

    And I thought the problem was going to be that she didn’t ask her if she wanted to buy drugs with the dollar.

  123. daph December 10, 2011 at 10:23 am #

    KABC-AM radio in Los Angeles runs this “public service” ad 3 to 4 times per night on the Doug McIntosh show. It makes me gag. The mother sounds brainless and she is a liar.

  124. Zach Davis December 18, 2011 at 2:31 pm #

    I haven’t read all of these comments but the commercial I just saw was a mother flipping a breaker, duping her kids into thinking the power is off. No big deal, let go out to play.

    Kids see that same commercial. It just taught them about a breaker pane. That can be pretty dangerous.

    I wondered if anyone else thought the same thing so Googled it, and stumbled on this thread and other commercials.

    @ Devil May Care

    “Art is the lie that tells the truth.” Pablo PIccaso

    Yes, there is a truth here that needs to be said. Kids should get out and move.

    This is a well intentioned but poorly executed public awareness ad campaign, that never approached art.

    The money behind this; could have done better.

  125. Devil May Care December 18, 2011 at 3:42 pm #

    Yeah, but Picasso sucks. He was just saying that to justify his crappy art.


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