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HHS Joins Ad Council and Warner Bros. Pictures to Combat Childhood Overweight and Obesity

  • Published: 2009-09-10 (Revised/Updated 2010-07-12) : Author: HHS Press Office
  • Synopsis: According to HHS CDC the percentage of young people who are obese and overweight has more than tripled since 1980.

Main Document

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Ad Council today launched a new series of public service advertisements (PSAs) designed to address childhood overweight and obesity.

PSAs Featuring Characters from "Where the Wild Things Are" Encourage Children to Play Every Day

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Ad Council today launched a new series of public service advertisements (PSAs) designed to address childhood overweight and obesity. Featuring characters from the upcoming film Where the Wild Things Are , the PSAs are an extension of HHS' Childhood Overweight and Obesity Prevention campaign with the Ad Council, which encourages children and families to lead healthy lifestyles. The ads are being distributed to media outlets nationwide this week.

According to HHS' Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the percentage of young people who are overweight has more than tripled since 1980, with more than 9 million school age children over the age of 6 in the U.S. considered overweight. In addition to the psychological and social issues of stigmatization, overweight children are at far greater risk of growing into adults who have cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, and other chronic diseases that may reduce the length and quality of their lives. A recent report also illustrated that the health cost of obesity in the United States is as high as $147 billion annually.

Created pro bono by Warner Bros. Pictures, the new TV, radio, print, outdoor and Internet PSAs feature characters and scenes from the film Where the Wild Things Are , directed by Spike Jonze and adapted from Maurice Sendak's classic children's story. The television ads feature the film's young hero, Max, running, jumping and having fun in the wild with various creatures from the story. The campaign encourages kids to start their own "Wild Rumpus" by finding time to play every day and touts the benefits of regular physical activity. All of the PSAs conclude with a call-to-action - "The Wild is Out There, Did You Play Today" and urge families to visit www.smallstep.gov for great play ideas. The website provides fun, interactive and helpful information on physical activity and healthy eating.

"Childhood overweight and obesity are serious concerns for children and adolescents in the U.S.," said Howard Koh, M.D., M.P.H, HHS' assistant secretary for health. "Good health starts with healthy habits, and regular physical activity promotes long-term health benefits. I'm encouraged by our efforts with the Ad Council to promote physical activity among young people."

The new PSAs are a continuation of the Ad Council and HHS'successful Childhood Overweight and Obesity Prevention campaign that first launched in 2005 and the Ad Council's Coalition for Healthy Children initiative, which encourages marketers to adopt consistent healthy lifestyle messages. Previous PSAs for the campaign and coalition have featured characters from DreamWorks' Shrek and National Football League players urging children to "Be a Player" and engage in physical activity for an hour a day.

"This new series of PSAs is a wonderful extension of our efforts with HHS to address childhood obesity," said Peggy Conlon, president and CEO of the Ad Council. "Where the Wild Things Are is a classic and the film's beloved characters will help encourage children throughout the country to become more active and reduce their risk for obesity. We are grateful to Warner Bros. for donating their resources for these PSAs."

"Warner Bros. applauds the ongoing efforts of HHS and the Ad Council to protect the health of children with campaigns like this, designed to appeal to them on a personal level. As part of that effort, we're happy to offer images from Where The Wild Things Are, to remind kids that being a Wild Thing means going outside to play," says Gene Garlock, senior vice president of promotions for Warner Bros. Pictures Worldwide Marketing.

Per the Ad Council's model, all of the new PSAs will run and air in advertising time and space that is donated by the media. To date, the Childhood Overweight and Obesity Prevention campaign has received more than $179 million in donated media support.

U.S.Department of Health and Human Services

The Department of Health and Human Services is the United States government's principal agency for protecting the health of all Americans and providing essential human services, especially for those who are least able to help themselves. The department includes more than 300 programs, covering a wide spectrum of activities, including medical and social science research, preventing outbreak of infectious disease, including immunization services, assuring food and drug safety, welfare, and Medicare and Medicaid.

About the Film

Warner Bros. Pictures presents, in association with Legendary Pictures and Village Roadshow Pictures, a Playtone/Wild Things Production of a Spike Jonze film: "Where the Wild Things Are." Maurice Sendak's classic book comes to the big screen in an adventure tale for every generation, starring Catherine Keener, Max Records and Mark Ruffalo, Lauren Ambrose, Chris Cooper, James Gandolfini, Catherine O'Hara and Forest Whitaker. "Where the Wild Things Are" is directed by Spike Jonze from a screenplay by Spike Jonze & Dave Eggers, based on the book by Maurice Sendak. It is produced by Tom Hanks, Gary Goetzman, Maurice Sendak, John Carls and Vincent Landay, with Thomas Tull, Jon Jashni and Bruce Berman serving as executive producers. The creative team includes director of photography Lance Acord, production designer K. K. Barrett, editor Eric Zumbrunnen and costume designer Casey Storm. Music is by Karen O and Carter Burwell.

"Where the Wild Things Are" opens nationwide October 16, 2009. It will be distributed worldwide by Warner Bros. Pictures, a Warner Bros. Entertainment Company, and in select territories by Village Roadshow Pictures. It is rated PG by the MPAA for mild thematic elements, some adventure action and brief language. Soundtrack Album is available on DGC/Interscope Records.

The Advertising Council

The Ad Council is a private, non-profit organization that marshals talent from the advertising and communications industries, the facilities of the media, and the resources of the business and non-profit communities to produce, distribute and promote public service campaigns on behalf of non-profit organizations and government agencies in issue areas such as improving the quality of life for children, preventive health, education, community well-being, environmental preservation and strengthening families.

The goal of the Ad Council's Coalition for Healthy Children is to help address the obesity crisis that confronts our nation and its children. Its mission is to provide clear, consistent, research-based messages to children and parents on the importance of practicing a healthier lifestyle and offer them the means to do it. This can be achieved by harnessing the combined strengths of marketers, media companies, non-profit groups and government agencies. The coalition's members have made a commitment to the promotion of healthy living to our nation's families and have agreed to incorporate the coalition's messages into their own communications programs. For more information about the coalition, please visit www.HealthyChildrenCoalition.org

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