Will you have fries with your anti-obesity campaign?


In early February, President Bush kicked off a heightened campaign to fight the epidemic of childhood obesity at a White House conference. The campaign, from the Department of Health and Human Services, tagged DreamWorks' computer animated character Shrek as the spokes-ogre to bring the message to America's kids.

Which I guess is like signing Robert Downey Jr. up for a few "Just Say No" public service spots. The kiddie section of the HHS nutrition website has the big green fella all over the page, just in time for the May 18 release of "Shrek the Third," coincidentally. The "Shrek Says" part of the site urges kids to get off their computer-surfing duffs and play for an hour a day. There are tie-in TV spots, too, which promote healthy eating habits while conveniently promoting the hell out of the movie.

The campaign does everything except teach kids how to spell "hypocrisy," because DreamWorks is at the same time using Shrek to shill for Snickers, Cheetos, McDonald's Happy Meals, and E.L. Fudge Double-Stuffed Cookies, among others. As pointed out by the non-profit Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, there are 17 different "Shrek the Third" food promotions pushing 70 different junk foods to children.

Can you say "partially hydrogenated trans-fat," kids?

The CCFC wants you to kick up a ruckus, which after reading the full list of marketing deals the green guy is attached to, you may be inclined to do. At the very least, hiring an overweight troll to stump for healthier lifestyles is a bit of a head-scratcher. Did Mumbles from "Happy Feet" not return HHS's phone calls? At least he could have talked up the benefits of fish.

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