Gym ad targeting overweight kids draws criticism

A Gold's Gym in Texas received backlash after creating an advertisement that some felt was an insensitive way to respond to childhood obesity.

The Gold's Gym in Kingwood was responsible for the controversial ad, which appeared in flyers mailed to area residents. According to a copy obtained by KHOU, two overweight children, accompanied by a red warning label, are featured in the advertisement. Under the boy's image, the caption says, "My fat may be funny to you but it's killing me." The caption under the girl's image says, "It's hard to be a little girl if you're not."

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Toni Galata, a representative of Body Love 4 All, a body positive organization, said that the ad sends the wrong message by making children feel ashamed about their appearance. Galata said the onset age for anorexia has dropped dramatically in recent years, with an age range between 9 and 12 years old.

T. Bryan Murphy, the owner of the Kingwood Gold's Gym that sent out the ad, responded to the concerns of citizens. Murphy said in a statement obtained by KHOU that he was "deeply committed" to children's health and wellness issues, but "devastated" that the ad was seen as an attempt at body shaming. Murphy promised to be more thoughtful in future messaging campaigns.

The corporate office of Gold's Gym also responded to the controversy, telling KHOU in a statement that, "We agree that fat-shaming children, or anyone, is wrong."