Friday, 1 October 2010

Magazine Aimed at Larger Ladies Doesn't Help the NHS Fight Obesity.

A magazine aimed at larger ladies called Just As Beautiful has been launched, causing controversy in the Press. The publication looks to celebrate curvy women and help them believe they're fine the way they are.

The Daily Mail reacted with an article suggesting that being overweight isn't something to be encouraged, when it can lead to premature death and illnesses, such as diabetes and heart disease.

Yahoo! Lifestyle took another tack, commenting that when other women's magazines are making efforts to include all shapes and sizes, singling out larger women with their own glossy is in fact a step backwards, seeming "... to continue the division and segregation of women based on their specific shapes. "

Whichever view you take, one thing is for certain; Just As Beautiful doesn't exactly compliment the NHS agenda of tackling obesity. Those running the various Social Marketing campaigns concerned with weight loss must have spat feathers when they heard the news.  One would imagine that the readership, if loyal, would quickly become virtually immune to any efforts to change their lifestyle.

But what can the NHS do when confronted with a problem like this? Free speech and freedom of the press are defining features of our Society and those who question that, do so at their peril. They could issue statements condeming the magazine, but they can't stop it being published or indeed, being bought.

Just As Beautiful will no doubt be well publicised and advertised, so the best the NHS can do is ensure that their conflicting messages receive the same level of professional promotion or if possible, an even greater amount.

This is possibly the only solution when the NHS finds it's Social Marketing conflicts with an aspect of Society. One could argue that they're fighting a similar battle with fast food retailers. Again, what else can they do, but try to shout louder, with messages that bring about long lasting changes within the fabric of the country.

Social Marketing does aim at that enduring behavioural change, rather than just saying 'eat healthy, it's good for you', but that, of course, takes time.  As this process progresses, it's inevitable that others may not agree with that change in the first place. Dealing with this is yet another thing for the NHS to consider in their Social Marketing efforts.

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