Govt uses kids to devise anti-obesity campaign

British schoolchildren are being invited to design an animation TV advert as part of a pioneering Government campaign to tackle childhood obesity.

The Department for Education and Skills (DfES) has teamed up with media conglomerate Viacom to handle the competition, set to launch on 20 January. It is the first time a Government department has partnered a media company to run a public campaign.

The DfES has hired August.One Communications to publicise the competition. The agency is recruiting a panel of celebrity judges, which it plans to use as a promotional tool. 

The winning animation – intended to promote the benefits of healthy eating to kids  – will be broadcast on Viacom's digital channels Nickelodeon and MTV from May. It will be designed by a child aged between 11 and 18, but the advert will target mainly primary school children. Nine regional winners will be announced but their prizes are undisclosed.

'The animation will help embed messages in the older group while also targeting the younger audience,' said a DfES spokeswoman.

'We will be doing photo-calls and a stunt and are hoping to profile some members of the Viacom animation team,' said August.One account manager Tim Hampson. The DfES's partnerships and promotions department is running the initiative as part of the Government's wider efforts to deal with childhood obesity.

One in ten six-year-olds is obese, and the  number of obese kids in England has doubled since 1982. On present trends, half of all children in England could be obese by 2020.

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