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Health Dept. Pours on the Glop

Monday, December 14, 2009

Attentive subway riders not buried in their iPods, magazines, or even thoughts will have noticed, for a good few months now, ads suggesting that drinking sugary soda amounts to “Pouring on the Pounds.” But why read the print ad when you can see the video? The NYC Health Department today released a video version that features basically the same image: soda being poured into a glass and turning from liquid into yucky gelatinous fat.

In the new video, a cool young guy -- a little bit like a 1980s era Rob Lowe, but less chiseled -- guzzles a pint of glop, which drizzles down his chin. As lively ska music plays, titles warn “Drinking 1 can of soda a day can make you 10 pounds fatter a year. Don’t drink yourself fat.”

Although a few of the comments so far appreciate the ad’s message, many more berate it for gross-out scare tactics and governmental paternalism.

Cathy Nonas, the Health Department’s Director of Physical Activity and Nutrition Programs, defends the approach, saying, “You have to grab people’s attention to big problems” and sometimes disgusting people is the best way to make them notice.

A recurring theme among the YouTube detractors is that the ad is a waste of taxpayer money. They needn’t fear, however: the $50,000 video was paid for by a private donor, via the Health Department’s non-profit supporter, the Fund for Public Health in New York.

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