By: Hana Kwon
It can’t get more gruesome than this. Images of shocking gangrene-infested toes, a man unconscious from heart failure, and a hopeless man suffering from cancer; This is just one of the many “Pouring on the Pounds” campaign commercials created by the New York City Health department. Another depicts an alarming image of an average American happily drinking a cup of fat poured out of a soda can, adding a satisfying wink as a finishing touch. Later a more intense blotch of fat falls on top of a clean plate. But then the scene abruptly shifts gears, featuring fresh looking healthy drinks such as water, Seltzer, low-fat milk, and unsweetened tea for the last three seconds of the commercial.
So what is the cause to such disturbing results? The New York City health department makes it clear that soda is one of the main problems for these harmful effects of obesity, and the campaign’s badgering signature image- a blob of fat pouring out of sugary drinks- is the way to solve the problem. “There is definitely a correlation between consumption and obesity,” Rebecca Sparks, Community Nutrition Educator of Self-Employed, says. “It is not that we don’t understand that there is a correlation between all those things, but there is no need and no nutritional value in drinking soda.”
Some believe the $870,000 stimulus-funded Campaign, which includes commercials on television and posters in the subway system, was launched as a scare tactic to convince citizens to shift to more healthy beverages. But statistics in a survey targeting college students in New York City show that though they find the campaign effective, seven out of ten students would move onto diet soda. The seven out of ten students suggested that instead of completely cutting out soda out of their diet, they would compromise with substituting diet soda instead. However, according to Women’s Health Magazine, diet soda can harm the brain’s ability to measure calorie intake. The more you drink beverages containing artificial sweeteners, the more you may start to crave sweets.
Is the New York Health Department going a little too far with the bashing of soda? The Pepsi Consumer and Science department seems to think so. Christine Wang, who is a part of the research and development departments at Pepsi, says, “People are focusing on it in a very wrong way. Even fruits have high amounts of sugar. The difference is that sugar in soda is processed but if you take it in moderation, I think it’s fine. The press is putting wrong intentions on it. Everyone has self control.”
While the New York Health Department is blaming soda as a major factor of obesity in New York City, soda companies such as Pepsi are using these campaigns to better their soda ingredients. “If you don’t comply with organizations, then they [the company] are not getting consumers, which affects the company. Everyone’s concerned with the issue,” Wang says. “Pepsi is marketing towards a healthier source of sugar other than hydrogen corn syrup. “We’re kind of going through the sugar route, which is better for you and on top of that, it’s natural.”