Childhood Obesity: Mom of Inspirational Nike Ad Star Doesn’t Get It

“At any point did you worry…that some people might [say], ‘Wow that kid’s really overweight and he’s only 12”?

Matt Lauer asked this startling question during an interview with Nathan Sorrell, the 200-pound, 5′ 3″ star of Nike’s Olympic ad campaign “Find Your Greatness,” and his mother on the Today Show this morning. The 12-year-old was chosen to participate in the campaign, which shows him running down a lone highway while a narrator talks about how we’re all capable of achieving greatness.


I love Nathan’s heart and his drive. I think that it’s great that he’s inspired to get into shape after participating in this ad. And I think that he’s an awesome role model for anyone who is trying to lose weight. I wish I could hug him. But it made me sick that he was in a position where he had to answer such a humiliating question on national TV.

I thought about the interview as I dropped Mason off at school (thankfully there was no vomiting incident this morning), stood in line at Starbucks for my  latte, and rode the elevator up to my office at work. The more I thought about it, the angrier I felt. By the time I logged onto my computer I was outraged.

Where were his parents while he was packing on the pounds? He didn’t become obese overnight. In fact, Nathan was so out of shape that he had to stop and vomit on the side of the road during the shoot, according to an ABC News report.

During the interview, Nathan’s mom Monica said that she was “wowed that Nike picked Nathan for their ad” and said that it was “something else to see your son on TV during the Olympics,” however, she seemed to be missing one critical detail: Her 12-year-old was in the ad, on TV, because he’s obese. She never once acknowledged that Nathan is facing a major health crisis for which she is at least partially responsible. Nor did she speak about how she’d help Nathan stay inspired to get fit.

Maybe you’re agreeing with me right now, or maybe you’re thinking that I’m being a mean, judgey mom. But when it comes to a child’s health, even if it isn’t my own child, I can’t help it. Childhood obesity is a major crisis in this country and we as parents are in a very powerful position to put an end to it. So why are so many of us dropping the ball?

I hope that Nathan gets healthy, and seeing his tremendous spirit on TV, I’m betting he will. I’d love to see a fit Nathan run in a follow-up Nike ad.

I also hope that his mom wakes up and does her part to help him succeed. Make him nutritious meals. Get out there and jog with him. Remind him that he was great even before Nike put him on TV. Get him healthy now, before it’s too late.

Photo: Sign via Stacie Stauff Smith Photography via

14 thoughts on “Childhood Obesity: Mom of Inspirational Nike Ad Star Doesn’t Get It

  1. It’s interesting that nobody cares about this child’s emotions possibly but his mother. Nobody asks or stops to think that maybe the mother would if she could physically run with him or encourage him physically, I am not able to run with my son due to my back problems. I am angry that his school doesn’t encourage the kids in sports more than they do when they are at school more waking hours by law than they are with us, their parents, here in this town, PE is the laziest PE I’ve ever seen these days. Why in the world nobody else has a problem with this, is beyond me!

  2. Amen. Excellent points. I will have to go see the interview online to read the mother but as a parent I am so afraid of screwing my kids up and making them unhealthy somehow. They are in the picky “I hate everything but crackers” stage and it terrifies me that I will never get them to like healthy foods. But we walk every morning (they ride in the stroller but they will walk or run with me when they are bigger). I take them to all sorts of places that encourage active play. I hate when I see people giving babies and toddlers soft drinks and d
    Slushies and garbage like that–that is when I know it’s a frequent habit. An ice cream cone on a super hot summer day is part of childhood, but feeding your kid donuts for breakfast regularly is just a crappy habit to start. When will parents figure this out?

  3. Emmy, I believe you’re missing the point. The idea of his mom getting out and running with him is just one of many options, and isn’t necessary. She could have something preventing her from running, but most likely all of her issues stem from her own obesity. And, while PE and sports in schools should help children realize the importance of their own physical fitness, they are but two small tools in the physical fitness toolbox. The larger issue, I believe, is that his mother allowed him to get to this point in life. She didn’t encourage better nutrition or exercise when it could have prevented what her child will now have to face. He has a mountain of struggle coming his way, if he can commit to bettering himself for himself. And, that’s where the encouragement from mom needs to come in. He’s too young to have gotten this way by himself, and he’s too young to fight the struggle away from it by himself. He’s going to need mom’s cheering and high-fiving, along with mom adapting their cooking/eating habits, to come out of this. I wish him and his mother the best of luck in their efforts!

  4. Do not forget that this child agreed to do this. He knows that he is obese and he is showing this to the world. He has heart! Let us at least praise him instead of bashing all the time.

  5. Careful there mean, judgey mom, someday little Mason will make a mistake; whether it is texting and driving, getting drunk underage, getting in a fight at school, or even (the horror!) drinking a super large slushy. SOMETHING is bound to happen at some point and there will be plenty of mean, judgey people out there blaming YOU for failing to raise your son properly. I’m not saying that when a child has problems that it is not at least partially the parent’s fault, but there are many factors at play; not everything is the mother or father’s fault. It’s easy to see things in black and white when your child is very young. The older he gets the more you will realize that there is no such thing as a perfect parent, and even if there were, his or her kids would still live in the big, flawed world and still encounter challenges and make mistakes.

  6. Wait, wait, wait,Emmy…do not blaim obesity on schools and PE. Regardless of the number of hours a child spends in school, his/her parent is the primary caregiver. Parents NOT schools are responsible for providing children with a healthy, active lifestyle. The sooner parents own up to that the better! I hope this young man can get to a healthier place and shame on his parent(s)!!

  7. I think it is ironic that yoh became angrier as you got your LATTE, RODE the elevator and then logged into your computer where i am assuming you will sit all day. I think the commercial may have been uses to inspirr some overweight kids who don’t think they can do things like the olympics because they aren’t in shape. If we judge those kids at that age and discourageI themthey are doomed. Set an example and make yourself the best you can be. Then you can judge.

  8. I have four children. Suddenly, over the past two-three years, one of my middle children is struggling with obesity. She has been involved in sports. She has eaten the same foods as her siblings. We have worked to increase her exercise as we have seen it happening. My husband gets out with her and walks/jogs. We have exercised together as a family.
    Weight is just a great struggle for her right now, and there is noone to get angry at about it. We just keep on fighting and work to keep her self-esteem as high as possible, for she is beautiful, talented, loving. We’re hoping the expected growth spurt over the next 2-3 years works in her favor.
    It’s very painful for her when people treat her as less than simply because her weight doesn’t match their standard.

  9. Kristin said it best.

    I was always an active child, but when puberty hit so did the weight. After, I couldn’t do things without being bullied. So for the longest time I didn’t think I could run, swim, and play sports. “Fat people can’t do those things” so I stopped. I still have trouble working out, playing team sports, because I am worried about people judging my abilities or my lifestyle.

  10. Judgmental bull like this is why I no longer subscribe to the magazine and have just now “unliked” on Facebook. Hope your kids remain completely perfect!

  11. I find it hard to take a woman seriously who writes: “…stood in line at Starbucks for my latte, and rode the elevator up to my office at work.

    Yes. And YOU are just the picture of a good example for your children?

    Puh-lease. Stones. Glass houses.

  12. Why is everyone blaming everyone else for a problem you have no clue how it started. It was not that long ago that people where heavier and nobody had a problem with it. He is 12 yeas old. You never know he just may end up being over six feet tall and thin. Leave all your judging to someone who needs it . Its people like you who judge appearance that lead to eating disorders and body image problems. You should not judge children. You where children once, did you get judge for the way you looked?

  13. Heather: I can totally see your point, that does sound lazy. I failed to note that our commute comprises a 22-block walk, including five sets of stairs (we take the subway), and I work on the 24th floor, so that’s why I go the elevator route at work.

  14. Both sides have interesting points. Obesity has never been the norm on earth. A small group of humans in the past, generally those with a lot of income where fat. As a sign of of that wealth. The majority of us, my family tree included, where dirt poor laborers on farms or in factories. Our body fat percentages where a lot lower. Those of us who survived to adulthood generally didn’t die of obesity related issues because we could never get enough calories to be fat. I don’t want my children to be farm workers at four and six but I am going to make the six year old bike four miles a day back and fourth to school and make the four year old ride and petal the eight miles a day that it takes to go drop off and pick up his brother with me. Because it is my responsibility to care for both of them. Just like picking the food they eat, what toys they have and what schools they attend. I can’t keep my children from become obese but I can keep them as healthy as possible so they have the best chance of being healthy in life. BTW there is nothing bad about having a latte as long as it is part of your daily diet and you factor it in to everything you are eating. Thanks for the post.

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