Like millions of New Yorkers, I take the subway every morning. And the other day I got shocked by what I saw in the Q trains on my way to work while I was trying to maintain my balance, holding a pole with one hand and my beloved soy cappuccino with the other.
I am no stranger to the fact that sweet beverages are most of the time filled up with more sugar than you really need included the beloved cappuccino mentioned above. But I have to admit I nearly vomited when I saw the carriage I was in was actually covered with these ads. I also cannot ignore that obesity is a major health problem in the USA and that it is mainly in a packed train during rush hour that you come to realize how big is the problem (at all levels really) since there is on average one seat per carriage that is not available due to overweight passengers who need 2 seats.
But thinking of the bigger picture it may not have the same impact on a lot of people (ie, I stopped drinking cappuccino in the morning after this traumatizing incident even if I cannot be considered as fat) since the problem remains and even increased in NYC for the past few years (this campaign actually got launched during summer 2009 so it is far to be a recent issue).
What bothers me is that as a reasonably stable person, I already got disgusted by this campaign and even changed my behavior towards sweet drinks due to what I saw, so I cannot imagine what may be the reaction of young teens facing eating disorders. As a matter of fact, I recently came across Tumblr blogs written by young girls with a dramatic issue with their body image, namely anorexia. The content of these weblogs was only filled up with pictures of over-skinny bodies that could have belonged to 10-year-old kids (pictures found in various magazines I don’t really need to name) and various data such as current weight, weight goal (hardly ever more than 100lbs), updated daily and praising how great it was to be nearly transparent and how being bony can rime with being sexy. I am obviously not going to judge these girls as they are just the results of an insane society that recently created the size 0 that is no less than a highway to the coffin.
But besides the lack of results this campaign may have had to be still on display – or even the opposite result this may have caused, I am quite concerned by what may be the consequences of these weight discrepancies in a country that does not have a health system and where the President struggled so much to impose a bare minimum. As in one way or the other, being too fat or too skinny leads to exactly the same results – ie a premature death and most of the time, rather painfully.
And when you get to read the statistic about obesity in NYC, you quickly realize that the highest rate of obese people is actually in areas where money is also lacking – so not only these populations won’t be able to get proper medical care once the consequences of their weight will kick in, they also lack the money right from the start as healthy/organic/fresh products remain significantly pricier than ready-made kind of crap you don’t even need to wait to consume. Furthermore in some neighborhood, the availability of fresh products is extremely limited even sometimes inexistent. One can say that it does not take much to eat healthy and I would not say the opposite but who has never bought a $1-pizza slice when they were broke and lazy – or worked out how much it would cost them to actually make the same and healthier version of the same pizza from scratch at home? Well, no need to be Einstein to do the math. So catch 22 really.