Soda Displaces Cigarettes As Public Health Enemy #1

by BILLY GRAY · December 15, 2009

    New York City public health officials have beefed up their anti-obesity efforts. As a proposed sin tax on soda languishes in bureaucracy, health advocates have resorted to another time-tested approach to ridding the public of its vices: revolting advertisements.

    Apparently, soda as the ultimate evil. Did you know that drinking one can of soda a day can make you 10 pounds fatter a year? No? Perhaps a ridiculous visual metaphor will help.

    The new ad, in which a fit man gulps down a pint of congealed nastiness meant to resemble pure fat, has come under fire for possibly going too far. It's a similar reaction that has greeted some of the graphic and arguably manipulative public service announcements that condemn obesity's twin evil in unhealthy lifestyle choices: smoking.

    You know the ones. A young child sobs after his mother abandons him in an airport (she presumably went off to have a smoke and dropped dead on the spot). A woman displays hands left fingerless after cancer reached her extremities. A man sings a country-western song through a voice box due to his missing larynx.

    It's probably mostly smokers who find these ads offensive. And some of them might take small comfort in the discomfort overweight people feel as they become the latest targets of (let's be honest, kind of condescending) scare tactics. And pity the fat smoker, who at this very moment is cowering in a fort held together by Big Mac wrappers and Skoal sludge.

    The long-term effectiveness of ads like this may be in doubt, but as a quick fix to those extra holiday pounds, this video might just make you lose your lunch.