A New York Times account, based on an open-records request, sheds light on how Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s famously nannyish health department makes up its mind how far to go in food-scare advertising. In particular, a proposed YouTube campaign to scare consumers away from sweetened sodas resulted in
a protracted dispute in the department over the scientific validity of directly linking sugar consumption to weight gain — one in which the city’s health commissioner, Dr. Thomas A. Farley, overruled three subordinates, including his chief nutritionist.
- “The scientists, she said [nutritionist Cathy Nonas], ‘will make mincemeat of us.’”
- “’Basic premise doesn’t work,’ Dr. Michael Rosenbaum, a professor of pediatrics and clinical medicine at Columbia”
- “’The science [i.e., efforts to be more accurate and precise in conveying the science] absolutely weakens our potential for mass distribution,’ [campaign manager Sabira] Taher wrote.”
- “’I think this is broad enough to get away with,’ [Nonas] wrote [of the final video].”
Isn’t it comforting to think that the city administration of New York – and its federal counterpart, staffed by very similar sorts of activist officials – are also in charge of regulating private advertising of food and many other products to make sure such ads are fair and not misleading?