Program background

In 2011, the WA Department of Health contracted Heart Foundation WA, in partnership with Cancer Council WA, to run a new public health education program. The aim was to encourage people to eat well, be physically active and maintain a healthy weight. In June 2012, LiveLighter was born. It was developed based on reviews of the scientific literature on social marketing campaigns, behaviour change theory and the medical consequences of overweight and obesity.

In addition to mass media advertising, the program engages with  Australian adults through social media, using digital platforms, and with printed tools and resources. From the beginning, LiveLighter has also been pushing for environmental changes to make the healthier choice the easy choice. LiveLighter works with retailers, universities, community organisations and all levels of government to make this happen.

LiveLighter is about:

  • Getting people to stop and think about their health now
  • Giving people the skills to make small (or big!) lifestyle changes to improve their health
  • Kickstarting the conversation and supporting community efforts to change the food and physical activity environment 

Why do we use confronting images?

LiveLighter ads can be seen as graphic and confronting. Evidence suggests that this is one of the most effective ways to deliver public education campaigns.

There is evidence that says showing people the harms to their health associated with carrying excess weight, being inactive and not eating well, will get the greatest response. This means greater potential for more people to see their health as important enough to make positive and sustainable lifestyle choices. Occasionally concerns are raised regarding the graphic nature of LiveLighter advertisements. The images are designed to be emotive and grab attention.

Are the images harmful?

LiveLighter is committed to regularly reviewing and assessing scientific evidence to ensure its materials are evidence-based. This gives the best chance at letting people know about the health consequences of carrying excess weight, being inactive, and not eating well.

LiveLighter conducts surveys measuring the effect of the campaign on a regular basis. Between 2012 and 2016 over 7,000 people have participated.  These surveys have not found any increase in negative stereotypes held about people carrying excess weight. The results from the first round of interviews can be found here.

The LiveLighter ads have also been tested for effectiveness against other ads addressing obesity and have rated strongly against those other materials. This study can be found here.