New York - Soft Drink Makers Rip City: Go After Cake, Not Sugary Beverages
New York - Soft-drink makers yesterday threw cold soda on Mayor Bloomberg’s latest anti-obesity campaign—graphic subway ads slamming sugary beverages, iced teas and sports drinks as fattening.
“It’s absurd and over the top and unfortunately is going to undermine efforts to educate about a serious and complex issue like obesity,” argued Kevin Keane, a senior vice president at the American Beverage Association.
“It just defies science and common sense to single out a single product as the contributor of obesity.”
The grotesque ads show the contents of three unnamed bottles—which closely resemble distinctive Coca-Cola, Snapple and Gatorade containers—morphing into yellow gobs of human fat as they are poured into glasses of ice.
The ad reflects a change of heart by the city about Snapple—at one time, Bloomberg gave the company exclusive rights to sell beverages in city schools and municipal buildings.
Keane noted that New Yorkers were adamantly opposed to Gov. Paterson’s suggestion of a tax on sugary drinks earlier this year.
He said obesity results from consuming excessive calories, no matter where they come from.
“Why not educate them on all calories and how all calories affect one’s weight, because they do?” he said. “Why aren’t they going after cake? Why single out soft drinks?”
City officials defended the subway campaign.
“We focus-grouped [the ads], and we didn’t find that they alarmed people. We found that they had an effect on people, that it was yuck, and it caused them to pay attention to what we were saying,” said Cathy Nonas, the city Department of Health’s director of physical activity and nutrition programs.
“It’s just horrifying to see how many preschoolers are drinking these sugar-sweetened beverages.”
Nonas attributed half of the average daily calorie increase of 250 over the last three decades to sugary soft drinks, and she said sports drinks are often misused.
“In terms of physical activity, if you look at any sports nutrition, water is the most important thing before, during and after an event,” Nonas said.
The three-month ad campaign cost $277,000 in taxpayer money and $90,000 from a private donor.
Despite the latest assault, a vending machine in City Hall yesterday continued to offer 20-ounce bottles of non-diet sodas.
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