The Cooper Institute

Founded in 1970 by the "Father of Aerobics"
Kenneth H. Cooper MD, MPH


NYC decides it's time to scare

Posted in
Eat better

Friday, Jan 13, 2012

Over the past five years, the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) has released a series of campaigns targeting sugary drinks and excessive calories and encouraging people to exercise. Along with the City's ongoing requirement that chain restaurants post calorie counts, their new campaign, attacking oversized restaurant portions, hopes to provide New Yorkers with the information they need to make healthy choices.

The poster shown above depicts an overweight man who has type 2 diabetes and an amputated leg. Under the ad a statement reads, "Cut your portions. Cut your risk."

In a previous blog we asked you about scare tactics like this. We discussed research that shows that fear can be a great motivator as long as the recipients of the message believe they are able to protect themselves. What's great about this ad is that it does provide the message, "Call 311 for your Healthy Eating Packet." In addition, the New York DOHMH's website provides many consumer-friendly brochures and fact sheets on obesity, physical activity, and nutrition. Thus, while this campaign provides the scare, it also provides the solutions.

Restaurants nationwide are recognizing the need for providing healthier options; with many introducing meals with less calories, fat, and sugar, and in a variety of portion sizes. The National Restaurant Association has recently launched the Kids LiveWell program to help parents and children select healthful meal options when dining out.

The key is that Americans must purchase these healthy items so restaurants continue to sell them. Americans have to understand that while large high-fat and -calorie "value" meals may seem like a good deal, their affects on health and weight are quite bad.