Soda Ad Wars Take Over NYC

New York City’s Health Department launched an education campaign last October about the dangers of drinking sodas. The campaign titled, “Pouring On the Pounds” features television ads, billboards and subway ads. The Health Department even has a webpage devoted to “sugary drinks,” and claims that drinking just one 20 once soda a day translates to eating 50 pounds of sugar a year. The webpage also that “sugar sweetened drinks contains extra calories that can lead to obesity and diabetes.”

One of the Health Department’s television ads is rather graphic. It depicts a man pouring contents of soda into a cup, and the soda has fat swimming in it. The ad claims drinking one can a soda a day can make you 10 pounds fatter a year.

Now, the soft drink sector is fighting back.

The New York City Beverage Association is launching a $1 million campaign to fight the health department’s claims that daily soda consumption is unhealthy. Transportation Nation reports that the newly formed association began the campaign with a “huge mass transit ad buy.” The ads will be on 570 subway cars, 75 buses and 120 subway platforms.

The New York City Beverage Association’s spokesperson Stefan Friedman told Transportation Nation that the ad campaign isn’t about fighting with the city’s health department. “Look, we face some issues with the city but it’s important for us to tell our story,” he said. “All evidence is clear that the obesity epidemic comes from a number of different sources. Sugar-sweetened beverages comprise just 5 percent of the American diet.” The timing is rather suspicious.

New York City Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Farley claimed in a press release last fall that “sugary drinks are the largest single source of added sugar in the diet, and a child’s risk of obesity increases with every additional daily serving of a sugary drink.” Farley also claimed that the “majority of New York City adults are now overweight or obese, as are 4 in 10 elementary school children and the health consequences are staggering.”

Farley told Transportation Nation that Americans are “consuming 200-300 more calories daily than 30 years ago, with the largest single increase due to sugary drinks.” He added that the “Health Department will continue providing New Yorkers with the facts about the dangers of this over-consumption.”

Earlier this month, the American Beverage Association (ABA) launched an ad campaign, titled “More Choices, Smaller Portions, Fewer Calories.” The ads will appear in the subway system, Bloomberg reported.

Chris Gindlesperger, spokesperson for the ABA told that the city’s campaign is “discriminatory and singles out one product out of an array of foods and beverages, all of which contribute equally to this very complex issue.”

Photo: Flickr user, Doey_

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

Gina-Marie is a freelance writer and journalist armed with a degree in journalism, and a passion for social justice, including the environment and sustainability. She writes for various websites, and has made the 75+ Environmentalists to Follow list by

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