Soda advertisement

While the evidence continues to mount that taxes alone aren’t enough to significantly reduce junk food consumption, the political prospects for passing a federal soda tax appears to be dim. Well, New York City has decided that if they can’t tax your soda, they’ll go after your appetite instead.

…New York City’s public health officials opened a new front in their struggle against high-calorie beverages on Monday, unveiling an ad campaign that depicts globs of human fat gushing from a soda bottle.

“Are you pouring on the pounds?” asks the ad, which urges viewers to consider water, seltzer or low-fat milk instead, and warns: “Don’t drink yourself fat.”

Take a good look at that image, folks. Ah, the pause that nauseates.

It’s easy to dismiss the effectiveness of this kind of ad campaign. Really easy if you’re the American Beverage Association — a spokesman told the New York Times that the ads would “do more harm than good.” Whether the spokesman was referring to the debate over soda consumption or to beverage companies’ bottom lines is unknown.

Yet with kids now drinking more soda than they do milk, it’s entirely possible that many parents simply don’t connect the dots between soda consumption and obesity. Compare any shock the above image may cause to the shock that comes with the revelation that liquid candy has now become a top beverage choice in households across the country — and given that fact it’s hard not to marvel at the shamelessness and outright disingenousness of beverage companies. At this point, anything that gets people looking at soda as an item that simply shouldn’t be part of an everyday diet has a role play.

The fact remains that, as with all policy interventions, the goal is not to end soda consumption entirely — just to reduce it enough to have an impact on obesity rates. Obviously, a single ad campaign isn’t going to do that — but getting government explicitly behind the message that soda isn’t just another drink is a good place to start.