Recently, Cancer Research UK launched an ad campaign linking obesity to cancer that was soon posted on multiple of billboards in London and across West Midlands. To which the comedian Sofie Hagen responded by calling the ad a “piece of shit” asking if “there something [she] can sign? How fucking fuck is this okay?” and urging for it to be banned because it was a form of fat shaming. Looking at such, I cannot help but say that the bedlam is fuelled by the propensity of people being too easily offended and angry over a single statement or wording.
Cancer research responded to Hagen’s tweet stating that their “campaign isn’t meant to make anyone feel bad about their weight or make anyone think negatively about people who are overweight or obese.” and that their aim is to “raise awareness of the link between cancer and obesity… as after smoking, obesity is the second biggest cause”. They also mentioned that it is their duty to “inform people about this and lobby the government on policies which will help us all to keep a healthy weight.”
I also disagree with the claim that the campaign was implying or causing any kind of fat shaming of overweight or obese people and I am glad Cancer Research stood by their decision to keep the ad as it was, as it is no way a form of malicious attack on obese people and it was not created to embarrass them either (although Cancer Research decided to tone down the their campaign by amending the phrase from “Obesity causes cancer” to “Obesity is a cause of cancer”). Being underweight or overweight comes with a lot of health risks and that is a laid out fact. Yes, it is normal that weight is perceived as a sensitive topic, however it cannot override the simple yet most important aim of the campaign which is to raise awareness of health and fight to save people’s lives. It should be noted that aside from cancer, obesity is known to lead to high blood pressure and obesity with high blood pressure can potentially lead to heart disease and further complications. Experts such as Professor Linda Bauld prevention expert at Cancer Research UK’s have explained that ‘Only 15 per cent of people are aware that obesity is a cause of cancer. Cancer Research UK has a duty to put that message in the public domain.” Surely any educational information on health and diet from experts should be accepted and shared by public.
Cancer Research UK is an organisation dedicated to reducing cancer rates. Yet, they are being shamed for trying to set light on the issue by spreading awareness of obesity as one of the causes to cancer. The outrage perhaps was a bit off taking the advertisement too personally and sensitively. All there was a mere fact and a good will to reduce cancer.