Government anti-obesity campaign ‘less effective than expected’

The effectiveness of the federal government’s ‘Swap It Don’t Stop It’ anti-obesity campaign featuring Eric the balloon man has come under scrutiny today.

The campaign, which urged Australians to ‘lose their bellies without missing out on the things they love’ when it launched in March last year, has prompted 14% of the target group to ‘be a swapper’ and adopt healthier living practices, according to a report covered in the Sun-Herald.

The story, headlined ‘Obesity campaign on the thin side’, reported that the campaign had had a lower impact on the 25 to 65 target group than expected in terms of cut-through and reach. However, the article was not clear on what the campaign’s objectives were.

One quote from the story labeled the campaign a ‘band aid’ solution to Australia’s obesity problem, while another said that it focused on ‘superficial actions’ that skirted the real causes of obesity.

A quote from the Australian National Preventative Health Agency, said: “There was evidence of a small number of positive changes in awareness, attitudes and behaviours relating to health lifestyles and chronic diseases and that some members of the target audiences had taken action in line with the campaign’s ‘how to’ messages.”

According to health minister Tanya Plibersek, ‘a large number of Australians’ had engaged with the campaign in the 16 months it has been running – with 740,000 visits to the Swap It website and 50,000 iPhone app downloads.

The campaign’s YouTube channel, Swap It Don’t Stop It, which was set up in March this year, has just just 740 views and a single subscriber. Its Facebook page has close to 17,000 fans.

The Australian National Preventative Health Agency had not responded to Mumbrella’s queries at the time of writing. The creator of the campaign, JWT Melbourne, declined to comment.

This is not the first time the Swap It campaign has been criticised in the Sunday papers. The Sunday Telegraph ran a story in November last year that suggested the campaign was a waste of tax-payer money and should be scrapped.


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