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Taxpayer-Funded 'Portion Control' Poster with Amputated Leg Found to be Photoshopped

“We might stop using actors in our ads if the food industry stops using actors in theirs.”

The man in this image was photoshopped to have a leg amputation.

Earlier this month, the Blaze reported about a campaign launched by the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to raise awareness about the growth of portion sizes and the associated health risks of over eating including obesity, which can lead to type 2 diabetes. Recently, it has emerged that one of the campaign ad images was Photoshopped and may have misled the public.

The ad in question showed an overweight man who only had one leg. The poster draws a connection between type 2 diabetes and leg amputations (see image below). Diabetes can lead to leg amputations due to complications from poor circulation and nerve damage; these symptoms are most common in older patients.

Now, the New York Times is reporting that the image was photoshopped -- the man on the poster really had both legs. The Times has more:

[...] it turns out that the person shown in the advertisement did not need crutches because his legs were intact. The health department confirmed on Tuesday that its advertising agency had removed the lower half of the man’s leg from the picture to make its point: the headline over the image reads “Portions have grown. So has Type 2 diabetes, which can lead to amputations.”

The image came from a stock photo source called Getty Images and was taken by photographer Morten Smidt, according to the Times.

Chris Gindlesperger, the director of communications for the American Beverage Association, which when the campaign launched voiced its concern that it was misrepresenting the correlation between drinking soda and leg amputations, is reported by the Times as saying in a statement "This is another example of the ‘What can we get away with?’ approach that shapes these taxpayer-funded ad campaigns.”

The Times reports health department spokesman John Kelly as acknowledging the man in the photo was an actor:

 “We might stop using actors in our ads if the food industry stops using actors in theirs.”

The Times points out that the campaign states in 2006 more than 3,000 New Yorkers "were hospitalized with leg amputations." Recently, a new study has emerged that shows leg amputations due to diabetes in the United States has dropped.

The rate has fallen by more than half since the mid-1990s, according to what is being called the most comprehensive study of the trend.

For older diabetics, amputations dropped from more than 11 to about 4 per 1,000 people, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported Tuesday.

Other diabetes studies have shown declines in lost toes, feet and legs, but not as dramatic.

"What jumped out to me was the scale of the improvement," said Dr. John Buse, a University of North Carolina diabetes expert who was not involved in the new study.

While diabetes has been growing more common in the United States - driven by obesity-related Type 2 - researchers have noted recent declines in some of the other most dreaded complications, including blindness and kidney failure.

n the CDC study, the researchers checked national hospital discharge records for 1988 through 2008, looking for patients aged 40 and older who had lost a toe, foot or leg to diabetes.

They found that though the number of people with the disease more than tripled over those two decades, foot and leg amputations fell after 1996.

The researchers also looked at people who did not have diabetes, and found the rates of amputation were flat.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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