05 June 2009

Anti-obesity campaigns: industry is a magnet for abusers

Readers of this blog might recall posts about LighterLife and TOAST, first-class purveyors of sleaze and slimming. Now Slim-Fast is ready to join that hallowed roll because one of their celebrity spokes-slimmers (no, not Whoopi Goldberg) has just been handed a four-year sentence for child abuse. That's one year for each of the four years that Barry Bethel sexually abused a minor.

It's a shame that Bethel's conviction for child abuse involves the real-life misery of a real-life girl because otherwise I'd be happy to crow about the apparent yet not entirely surprising relationship between sleaze and the diet industry.

Interestingly, Slim-Fast dumped Goldberg in 2004 for making a sexual joke about George W. Bush at a Democratic Party fundraiser. The company have made no such public statements to distance themselves from Bethel, although it's true that his ad spots were in the 1990s so maybe the company has selective amnesia that they ever employed him. Perhaps it's perfectly acceptable in Diet Land to have a convicted child abuser as a weight loss role model shilling your product and, despite his conviction, Bethel's kept the weight off - good man!

By the way, Unilever, who own Slim-Fast and a million other of your favourite brands, make a €40 billion annual profit.

This post is brought to you with apologies for its unfettered cynicism.


richie79 said...

Ugh, how thoroughly charming. I remember the Barry Bethell ad spots from the early 90, not least because a group of lads used to abuse a fat kid at my school by calling him 'Barry Bethel' (supposedly because he vaguely resembled the guy's 'before' pic). At that point I wish I'd had the guts to stand up on his side, but in my defence I was myself far too busy being victimised by the entire year group for being quiet, ginger, socially phobic and generally more than a bit weird.

High school; there should probably be a UN resolution against it.

As for TOAST, discredited or not my local NHS trust's obesity page still links to their site, which now seems to carry a half-finished ad for a WLS clinic. I'm hoping the only reason is that that page is horrifically outdated (it also links to the BBC's 'Fat Nation: The Big Challenge' campaign, which IIRC ran in 2004!) rather than because Leeds NHS endorse them in either their past or present incarnations.

Charlotte Cooper said...

Oh richie!

Oh Leeds!

Oh no!