“Portions have grown. So has Type 2 diabetes, which can lead to amputations,” reads a new ad from the Bloomberg administration’s health initiative, alongside images of big, evil, sugary sodas and a sad man with one leg. He lost it to bad habits, the city would have you believe. In fact, the original version of the stock photo features a dour-looking man with two legs on a stool, and the health department had one chopped off with computer technology to add to the drama.
It really shouldn’t be necessary to state this, but I’d just like to reassure at least one commenter that, while I may indeed be ”breathtakingly ignorant”, the scope of that ignorance does not extend to denying the relationship between obesity and type 2 diabetes, or the fact that the consequences of diabetes can, tragically, include amputation. That said, these connections are very well-known, and I’m not entirely convinced that New Yorkers need to be scared away from soda in this fashion. The ad in question is not, of course, a big deal either way, but it is perhaps worth noting that earlier efforts by the city’s health department have featured people with all too genuine problems (a smoker talking through a voice box, for example). By resorting to photoshop trickery now, the city risks subverting those earlier ads, and, indeed, any successors in a similar vein.
In its story on this topic the New York Times quotes Bob Garfield, a commentator for Advertising Age and National Public Radio. He strikes the right note, I reckon, saying that the misrepresentation “was lazy or cheap or silly, but [that he] wouldn’t lose any sleep over it….Why people lie when there’s no penalty for telling the truth is an absolute mystery to me.”
Quite. We ought to expect higher standards from something that comes from city government.
Wait a minute, what am I saying?