A new interactive exhibit at Disney’s Epcot Centre, Florida has sparked controversy as the war against child obesity continues. The new feature is called Habit Heroes, consisting of heroes Callie Stenics and Will Power. The heroes lead the fight against the villains who have names like Lead Bottom and Sweet Tooth. The Innoventions exhibit opened on 3rd February with Blue Cross Blue Shield as the co sponsor.
The heroes take children through a series of challenges to destroy the ‘baddies’, using apples and broccoli and other healthy food as weapons to wipe out hot dogs, cream puffs and other junk food. According to the social media manager of the Disney Park, Jennifer Fickley-Baker, the interactive exhibit aims to educate children to have a healthy lifestyle and take part in activities to encourage health and reduce child obesity levels. However, some concerns have been raised at the methods used to fight obesity. Just as the adverts for anti obesity in Georgia stirred up conflicting opinions, the Epcot exhibit has caused controversy.
The founder of the Bariatric Medical Institute in Ottawa and family doctor Yoni Freedhoff, raised concerns about the new exhibit, saying:
“So thanks for being so helpful Disney-I mean if your kids not overweight or obese, here’s to Disney reinforcing society’s most hateful negative obesity stereotyping, and if they are overweight or obese- what kid doesn’t want to be made to feel like a personal failure while on a Disney family vacation.”
Ragen Chastain, who introduced the campaign to oppose the ads for anti obesity in Georgia , ‘Support All Kids’, was also concerned at the effect the new interactive feature would have on kids who are overweight or obese. Chastain pointed out that children are exposed to stereotypical responses from society regarding child obesity every day; only to go on holiday and find that obese kids have been turned into villains who other kids will fight against. The issue remains whether interactive programs like this one actually help in the fight against childhood obesity, or cause more damage long term.