Health ads that frighten the viewer

From the New York Times:

The city’s health department uses no sugar-coating in its latest ads, which feature images of overweight people whose mobility is impaired to warn of the dangers of ever-growing portions of unhealthy food and soft drinks.

The ads are the latest installment in a campaign by the Bloomberg administration to jolt New Yorkers out of bad health habits; other ads, which have run in the transit system and on local broadcast outlets and the Internet, have depicted smokers who lost fingertips or their ability to speak normally.

The city’s approach — in one recent ad it sharpened its message by editing off a model’s leg — has drawn some criticism for its negativity. But it is not the health department’s first brush with controversy: In 2009, it ran an ad that suggested drinking a can of soda a day could add 10 pounds of fat a year. Internal e-mails exposed dissent about that claim among officials of the department.

On a lighter note, the department has been running an ad that claims a person would have to walk the three miles from Union Square in Manhattan to Brooklyn to burn off the calories in a 20-ounce soda.

The department explained its approach on Sunday in a statement: “When science tells us that smoking does not cause lung cancer or that obesity is not driving an epidemic of Type 2 diabetes, we will stop depicting those facts in ads. Until then we are going to accurately convey the facts in our advertising — advertising that has helped to successfully reduce smoking in New York City to a historic low of 14 percent, saving thousands of lives.”

Read the complete story here.

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