WA government launches graphic ads targeting fat people

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 16th October 2012

The Western Australian government has launched a shock advertising campaign designed to make obese people rethink their lifestyle choices. The campaign has the name LiveLighter.

The graphic images feature an overweight man eating pizza and grabbing a roll of fat on his stomach.

Viewers are then taken inside the man’s body where they can see yellow ‘toxic fat’ enveloping his organs.

The campaign, launched by the WA Government, in conjunction with the Heart Foundation, and Cancer Council Western Australia, is taking to shock tactics used in anti-smoking and road safety advertising. Some might even claim the campaign is as shocking as the Grim Reaper anti-AIDS advertising campaign of the late 1980s.

Heart Foundation (WA Division) chief executive Maurice Swanson said important health messages were being swamped by the nearly $6 million spent on advertising junk food in Western Australia.

In comparison, he said, the LiveLighter campaign has cost $900,000.

“The important information contained in public health advertisements is at risk of being swamped by the unhelpful messages promoted by the junk food giants,” Mr Swanson said.

“That’s one of the reasons why we’ve taken a harder-hitting approach with the LiveLighter campaign. We need people to sit up, take notice and do something positive for their health.”

He said that many people were aware of what needed to be done to lead a healthier lifestyle, but for some reason many are ignoring their “better judgment”.

“Eat more fruit and veg, cut back on foods high in sugar, salt and saturated fat, move your body more – these are simple things. We need to make a concerted effort to achieve a healthier weight.”

Meanwhile, eating disorder experts have attacked the campaign for employing tactics to scare viewers into adopting a thinner physique.

BodyMatters Australasia managing director Lydia Turner has launched an online petition calling for the cancellation of the advertising.

Ms Turner said that scaring and shaming people about their bodies was not the answer.

“Unlike tobacco and drink-driving, food is not a substance people can abstain from,” she writes in the petition.

“Existing research shows that shaming people about their body size does not lead to health-giving behaviours. These kinds of campaigns only exacerbate the existing stigma and bullying based on body size, which is harmful to everyone,” Ms Turner said.

The Grim Reaper advertisement, launched in 1987 with government funding, encouraged a lifestyle change by using shock tactics.  Both the latest WA advertisement against fat and the Grim Reaper advertisement can be compared on Youtube.


–          WA government ‘LiveLighter’ campaign (2012)

–          Government funded ‘Grim Reaper’ campaign (1987)