NYC Health Department has no leg to stand on

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The New York City Department of Health is at it again: In their obsessive effort to oversee every aspect of New Yorkers diets, the agency used graphic ads plastered all over the subways depicting an overweight man with a missing leg. A caption over the image reads, Portions have grown. So has Type 2 diabetes, which can lead to amputations.

BeforePhotoshop magic

What the poster conveniently doesn t point out, however, is that in reality, this man s legs are intact. Working the usual photoshop magic, the Health Department took a stock image of a normal man, who may not even have diabetes, and transformed him into an amputee for their own agenda-pushing purposes.

ACSH s Dr. Josh Bloom was puzzled by this move. Frankly, I m stumped why they would go to such lengths to make their point.

And this isn t the first time that New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley has distorted the facts. In October 2010, his chief nutritionist Sabira Taher warned Dr. Farley in an email against using graphic ads that suggested a link between soda consumption and weight gain. I think going this route would raise a lot of skepticism within the public about our message, Taher wrote in one of the released emails. Yet despite her concern, the campaign was approved. Even a professor who was hired to consult on the featured ads explained that they were misleading because they didn t mention changes in physical activity as a major contributor to obesity.

The latest news is just one more example demonstrating Dr. Farley s infatuation with telling everyone what they should and should not be eating," says ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross. "Controlling portion size is a valid concept, certainly, but the goal should not blind him to the ethical standards of scientific communication."

And as Dr. Betsy McCaughey, ACSH s distinguished guest this morning, aptly points out, The root causes of obesity are manifold and complex the Health Department should not be inventing images to make a specific point. Saying that the food industry does it, why can t we? is not an acceptable rationale for such subterfuge.