Friday as I was waiting for my flight back to Denver from Dulles, I was reading USA Today looking (as always) for cause marketing ads or articles that highlight ways businesses give back or are engaged in corporate social responsibility (CSR). What I saw that struck me was the juxtaposition of ads highlighting obesity and hunger just pages apart.

From my “earlier life,” I have two degrees in nutrition; my Master’s Degree being in international public health nutrition from Virginia Tech.  Also, having just facilitated 10 community dialogues throughout the county for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) as part of their next 5 year strategic plan development process, I heard a lot of nonprofit folks in local communities talking about obesity and access to healthy foods.

So, perhaps you know September is National Childhood Obesity month. I was struck looking through the USA Today by the fact that on one page was a huge ad for Anytime Fitness that said:

“There is no childhood obesity epidemic.

We heard that September is National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, and people are saying that 1 in 3 of us are overweight or obese. Well, Mom and Dad, can you help us out here? We need more than reminders and threats. We need good examples. If you want us to play an hour a day, then come out and play with us. Set an example by taking the COAK pledge.”

Clearly, an innovative and smart way to motivate parents/adults to sign up for their fitness services.  And childhood obesity IS a big issue these days.  The CDC states, “Obesity is the result of caloric imbalance (too few calories expended for the amount of calories consumed)…Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years. The prevalence of obesity among children aged 6 to 11 years increased from 6.5% in 1980 to 19.6% in 2008. The prevalence of obesity among adolescents aged 12 to 19 years increased from 5.0% to 18.1%.”  These stats look more like 1 in 5 being obese but that is somewhat moot for my real point.  (For more information on childhood obesity, click here.)

However, a couple pages later, there was another huge ad for Feeding America. September is also “Hunger Action Month.” Throughout the month, the Feeding America network of more than 200 food banks is asking you to take action through the “30 Ways in 30 Days” campaign. Whether it’s by advocating and raising awareness, making a donation or giving your time, find the way that’s right for you to make a difference in your community.”

Feeding America is the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief charity.  Their mission is to feed America’s hungry through a nationwide network of member food banks and engage our country in the fight to end hunger. Each year, the Feeding America network provides food to more than 37 million low-income people facing hunger in the United States, including 14 million children and nearly 3 million seniors.

So these two ads hit home with me – what does this say about us as a country?   One out of every four U.S. children struggles to find their next meal AND another one out of five U.S. children is obese from eating more calories than they expend.  Hard to make sense of it all!

What do you think?