On the heels of the controversial childhood obesity ad campaign we've reported on in Georgia, the New York Department of Heath and Mental Hygiene has also rolled out a new campaign that is ruffling the feathers of some for its portrayal of soda size leading health issues like leg amputations.
The ad in question states “Portions have grown. So has Type 2 diabetes, which can lead to amputations". In the ad is an obese individual who has had a leg amputation and a graphic showing the growth of soda portion sizes.
The New York Times reports that American Beverage Association takes issue with ad, stating that it does not accurately represent the connection between serving size and obesity:
“Portion control is indeed an important piece of the solution to obesity,” said Stefan Friedman, a spokesman for the association. “But instead of utilizing scare tactics, the beverage industry is offering real solutions like smaller portioned containers and calorie labels that show the number of calories in the full container, right up front, to help people choose products and sizes that are right for them and their families.”
In 2009, during a legislative battle over taxing sodas, the health department produced ads that showed a pile of yellow fat on a place-setting and warned that drinking a can of soda a day “can make you 10 pounds fatter a year.” Last year, the New York Times reported that there had been a “protracted dispute” within the department about scientific validity of that claim.
According to Reuters, City Health Commissioner Thomas Farley said disturbing images were chosen for the campaign to "drive home a point."
Soda isn't the only product called out for increased portion sizes; fries and hamburgers make an appearance in the ads as well. The department points out that in the last 50 years serving sizes of soda have quadrupled and french fries have tripled.
The "hard-hitting" campaign, which began releasing ads on Monday, is seeking to help New Yorkers think twice about their portion sizes as nearly 57 percent of adults and two out of every five children are considered overweight or obese.