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?