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Perspectives on "Drinking Fat"

Following are excerpts from an online discussion here about an anti-soda video from the NYC Dept. of Health. What do you make of the video and the related questions? 

J: *Warning* could gross you out. Do you think it’s effective in
delivering the message?

http://www.youtube.com/drinkingfat

A: I’m so thirsty now

K: I’ve succeeded in grossing out several staffers by showing this just now!

(if you're just seeing the preview of this, more meaty discussion in the full version)

L: I’m really, really not down with the fat-shaming in this ad. . .I
don’t deny that obesity is a problem, a systemic problem, but this ad
gives a strong impression that being overweight or obese is a moral
failing (and GROSS), as opposed to a wide combination of factors
including lifestyle, genetic predispositions, accessibility to healthy
food and opportunities for physical activity, stress (including stress
resulting from systemic oppressions like racism and classism, which is
being shown to be more and more a factor in weight gain), etc. It
promotes the already widespread prejudice that overweight people are
disgusting (look, they might as well be drinking a giant glass of FAT!),
gluttonous, and morally culpable for their weight — so it ends up
promoting the shaming of fat people as well as (indirectly) classism and
racism. . .I think it gets across the point (don’t drink soda you’ll
get fat and gross), and I find that point to be appalling and
counterproductive to everything we’re trying to encourage our youth to
be.

J: Really appreciate the response. . .some other topics that
come to mind on this issue for me that I would like to share as well
are:

  • In the United States, in my mind, there is much more structural injustice
    around food than there is beverage. First, while maybe not as
    tasty to some, you can by and large choose to just drink water. Also,
    other healthier beverages are more accessible than healthy food
    maybe... bodegas typically have milk. They could even buy powdered milk in
    bulk once a year. Additionally, in other countries, there are issues of
    cost, accessibility and cleanliness/pollution to think about.
  • While obesity is a systemic problem, it is also one of personal
    responsibility. Not completely one or the other. However, the
    advertisement does lean on one more than the other.

On top of those issues, there should also be a conversation on
advertising. Can you catch someone’s attention in a few seconds with
something less controversial? Would it be effective? We use the same
strategy in youth development here in The Food Project. . .From my
experience, they are effective, powerful and at times life changing, IF
processed with much care and concern. People, right now, are
talking about this advertisement through magazine articles, forums and
popular social media sites, even here at The Food Project. . .while I
don’t appreciate the comments mentioned by [youtube] posters in the
video, I do appreciate NYC taking a step in addressing this issue by
creating a forum for discussion. That way these uneducated/unaware
comments that people make can be exposed and addressed.

This also brings up another point that we should talk about with the
youth, especially in regards to advertising. If they are going to be
spreading our message about things we are passionate about. . .having
our youth view these videos is extremely important. Their generation is
the most affected and they are the ones we are sending out into the
world, to educate others.

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