‘Obesity Is Suicide’ Ad Campaign

By Laura Moncur @ 5:00 am — Filed under:

Click to see full size.I’m angry enough to bite nails over this advertising campaign created by Brandon Knowlden:

In his own words, the description of the campaign is here:

It is no secret that the American culture is known for overindulgence. This public service campaign dramatizes the effects of poor eating in a way we can all understand.

Public service campaign? Read the fine print on the ads and tell me if it’s a “public service” or not.

But it doesn’t have to end this way. Find out how bariatric surgery can help. The Northern Bariatric Surgery Institute. www.cutweight.org.

That little URL leads directly to the website for William S. Peters, M.D.

That is NOT a “public service” announcement. It’s a barefaced advertisement for a surgeon using scare tactics.

I’m not here to argue whether obesity kills because even the medical community is split on that issue, but we KNOW that bariatric surgery kills 1 out of 200 patients.

The most commonly cited mortality rate for bariatric surgical operations, across the United States, is 0.5%. That looks pretty good, till you do the math and realize that means about 1 out of 200 patients will experience a fatal result.

Don’t let them lie to you. Promoting the idea that it’s better to be dead than fat isn’t a public service.

Via: A Sizable Apple: Reaction: ‘Obesity is suicide’ campaign

Update 04-24-08: A special thank you to Juliana for pointing out that Dr. Peters left the following statement on his website:

It has been brought to my attention that there are posters circulating on the internet that are being associated with me. I would like it to be known that I am in no way associated with this marketing campaign and I have taken formal action to have my name and likeness removed from any such product, poster, internet site or publication.

Just for clarification, I have never been associated with this organization and am disgusted by their vulgar display of obesity. This is something I would never stand for and am appalled that anyone would even consider placing material of this nature out for public viewing.

Update 06-25-08: I received this email from the originator of these ads:


My name is Brandon and I am the originator of the ads you have posted on your site at

These ads were created on a sample basis for a support group that Dr. Peters meets with. His position is and has always been that he sees the ads as disgusting. I am emailing you because the ads are damaging his business and they were proliferated throughout the internet by my own selfish motives without his knowledge.

I apologize for the level of insincerity the ads depict and would be grateful if you could remove the post. If not, please let me supply you with new images that do not connect Dr. Peters to the graphic nature of the content.



5 Responses to “‘Obesity Is Suicide’ Ad Campaign”

  1. Harl Delos Says:

    That 1-in-200 number is how many die ON THE TABLE.

    I had bariatric surgery in 1979, which was reversed in 1986. Among the papers my surgeon demanded I read before he performed the surgery (he quizzed me on what they said!) was one that patients who survive the surgery die, on average, 17 years later.

    That scientific paper pointed out that kids diagnosed with pediatric diabetes have the same 17 years after diagnosis to live, and suggested that the cause might be the same: malnutrition.

    Without the surgery, the patients live an average 28 years.

    No matter. I was sure I’d rather have 17 good years than 28 bad ones. Stupid, stupid, stupid. We get too soon old, and too late smart.

  2. Alan Free Says:

    I followed the link to art director Brandon Knowlden’s portfolio. He’s showing off at least two other “suicide” ads from the campaign. Scare tactics is right. One of the ads shows a person hanging himself (using sausage instead of a rope); another shows a person planning a suicide bombing. All very clever. But it’s one of the most manipulative, deceitful advertising campaigns I’ve seen in a long time. Shame on Mr. Knowlden for using his talent in this way. As for Dr. Peters, the surgeon behind the ads. Well, what can you say — it’s great to live in America, right doc?

  3. iportion Says:

    It’s a shameful advertising campaign.

  4. Juliana Says:

    I have to admit, the ads they are pretty good, maybe that’s why they provoke such a reaction. Although, shouldn’t the people in the photograph actually be obese? The lady with the sweets looked pretty normal to me.

    As for Dr Peters, his website says he sued the guy to have his name removed from the ad as apparently he did not commission it.

  5. Raven Says:

    Honestly, I think the ads are quite good. It’s true that our society has a problem with overindulgence! I personally struggle with overindulgence [and not merely in the form of food]. I am, however, completely against the idea of unnecessary surgery when exercising, eating well, and having friends to keep you accountable are a better way of doing things.

    Eating unhealthily will cause an array of problems, including a shorter lifespan and a poorer quality of life. Mr. Knowlden’s ads are telling us bluntly telling us that our overindulgent food choices are killing us. Hippocrates said, “let food be your medicine and medicine be your food”. We need to be aware that every choice we make, every food we put in our mouth is physically shaping the person we are becoming. Maybe these ads are creating awareness in a good way? <i?Yes, I have been making poor food choices, yes I will die sooner then I want, yes I will seek help [from a doctor, from good health books, from my family and friends’ support, etc], yes I will make better choices and live longer!

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