Innoventions ‘Habit Heroes’ at Epcot has temporarily closed for some reworking. The move comes after negative press regarding the exhibit about its potential to “offend.” The exhibit is designed to educate guests about kicking some unhealthy habits, and improving health and fitness. Currently there is no known reopening date.
Here’s an article on the matter.
Fat chance Disney’s latest attraction will win over weight researchers, who are petitioning for the immediate shuttering of the “horrifying” exhibit — one that, ironically, purports to be on their side.
Habit Heroes, which opened at Disney World this month, features superheroes Will Power and Callie Stenics, a buff duo who lead kids in the fight against poor health. Bad habits are personified by such obese villains as Lead Bottom and The Glutton, whose crimes include inactivity and binging.
With childhood obesity rates having almost tripled in the past 25 years, many will see value in the educational attraction. But according to theBinge Eating Disorder Association, National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, and a chair of the Canadian Obesity Network, the Disney effort is guilty of “blatant discrimination.”
“It’s so dumbfounding it’s unreal,” says Dr. Yoni Freedhoff, an assistant professor of family medicine at the University of Ottawa. “I just can’t believe somebody out there thought it was a good idea to pick up where the school bullies left off and shame kids on their vacation.”
The Epcot attraction, which includes a mobile app and interactive website, encourages kids to start food fights — using broccoli spears as ammo — and to use “positive peer pressure” to force an obese man to exercise.
Freedhoff, whose family recently visited the Florida theme park, calls the premise a “gross oversimplification.”
He suggests childhood obesity would be better fought by teaching youth how to read food labels, about the exercise required to burn calories, and to cook from scratch as opposed to buying boxed products emblazoned with cartoons.
He argues it’s not children who are to blame but the environment in which they’re being raised.
“There’s no doubt in my mind that overweight and obese kids going through this exhibit are leaving feeling horrible about themselves,” says Freedhoff, the Canadian Obesity Network’s family medicine chair.
“Disney couldn’t close it down too soon as far as I’m concerned.”
The attraction’s debut has sparked an online maelstrom among health professionals, who in recent days have taken to the blogs to voice their concerns.
Rebecca Scritchfield, an adjunct professor at George Washington University, said she was “disgusted” by the exhibit’s implication that weight is indicative of health, writing: “I would love to know what sickos thought this up.”
Fellow dietician Julie Duffy Dillon said news of the attraction — which she described as “another campaign showing the skinny heroes saving those dumb enough to be fat” — brought her close to tears.
Marion Nestle, a widely noted author on issues of food and health, wrote in apparent amazement: “You can’t make this stuff up.” And in an email to Postmedia News, Dr. Arya Sharma, chair for obesity research and management at the University of Alberta, called the exhibit “appalling on so many levels.”
But if Habit Heroes is offensive to some, weight researcher Freedhoff doesn’t think it’s intentionally so. Rather, he blames what he dubs a “broken” cultural notion of the causes of obesity.
“I’d be surprised if Disney, a company that makes its money off of making kids happy, set out to shame kids and reinforce horrible stereotypes,” says Freedhoff.
“It’s just that society does believe (weight-control) is about willpower and calisthenics.”
Disney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.