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The (Heavy) World According to "Wall-E"

Posted Apr 09 2009 7:14pm

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.

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