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02 Mar 2012

Disney cans healthy lifestyle exhibit over 'bullying' claims
BY Tom Walker

Walt Disney Parks and Resorts has decided to close its Healthy Habits exhibit and gaming zone that promoted healthy lifestyles at it's Epcot resort in Orlando, Florida, following accusations that it was 'offensive to overweight children'.

A lobby group called the National Association to Advance Fat Acceptance (NAAFA) claimed that Disney had "taken the side of the bullies" with the portrayal of its characters in its Habit Heroes zone.

The characters included "Snacker", portrayed as eating too much fatty foods; "Lead Bottom", who doesn't get enough exercise; and "The Glutton", a character who eats too much.

NAAFA launched a campaign against the exhibit, encouraging "everyone to call and write to Disney and to express their outrage".

In a statement, a NAAFA spokesperson said: "We are appalled to learn that Disney, a traditional hallmark of childhood happiness and joy, has fallen under the shadow of negativity and discrimination.

"It appears that Disney now believes that using the tool of shame, favored so much by today's healthcare corporations, is the best way to communicate with children."

According to the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP), up to 33 per cent of children and adolescents in the US are obese. AACAP figures show that unhealthy weight gain due to poor diet and lack of exercise is responsible for more than 300,000 unnecessary deaths each year. (For more info click here for the AACAP website)

Disney confirmed that the Healthy Habits exhibit, which had its soft opening in January ahead of an official launch this month, would remain closed indefinitely.

Founded in 1969, NAAFA states its mission as "protecting the rights and improving the quality of life for fat people".

To read the full statement from NAAFA, click here.

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