Burger Wall-E has made a big splash among movie-goers this summer, but this futuristic robot love story is not just sweet and enjoyable. It’s also full of social commentary about an issue that’s very much in the public eye: the relationship between food advertising, television viewing, and overweight.

The Times Union on Monday noted the link between Wall-E‘s portrayal of future humans as "fat blobs…with television screens mounted 12 inches from their heads" and the U.S.’s current epidemic of overweight. In the article, CMCH Director Michael Rich is quoted as saying, "This is the direction things could go in if we continue this way."

Even if the future doesn’t look quite like that, however, there is plenty of research linking overweight with the very issues that Wall-E highlights: A 2005 study found that children’s exposure to ads for sweet/fatty foods is associated with overweight, and another study found that such exposure is increasing. As Dr. Rich points out, though, the problem isn’t watching one commercial–it’s constant exposure over the course of years that changes our attitudes toward food. And whether you’ve seen Wall-E or not, that sort of change, and the risks associated with it, definitely warrants attention.

One Response to “The (Heavy) World According to “Wall-E””

  1. Susan Levine

    The idea of humans ending up as “fat blobs…with television screens mounted 12 inches from their heads” is probably going to happen sooner than later! “Hip” young people all over are hooked into their iPods and Blackberries while on foot or on trains, planes, and busses. When they get home, they head for their Wii’s, or the younger set heads for “Webkins” or other interactive games.
    As an elementary school counselor, I am saddened by the fact that children are no longer allowed to play in their neighborhoods for fear of child abductors. These fears are of course real and understandable, but TV and computer games are NO substitution for the exercise that children of all ages are lacking. Gym is only required for 45 minutes 1 time per week in my district, so school districts need to rethink the physical education program beginning in the early years.
    What message are we giving our kids? That you can be “plugged in” all day, you never have to learn social skills, and you only have to move your body when absolutely necessary! If we think Americans are suffering from the “Super-size” syndrome now, I cringe to see what awaits today’s sedentary children.


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