New York City’s health department has become know in recent years for a series of attention-grabbing ads, aimed to scare New Yorkers into making healthier lifestyle choices. Past messages about the dangers of smoking, drinking and consuming too much junk food, have featured images such as a woman who lost her fingers from smoking related disease, and a bloodied man drank too much. The latest ad cautions against consuming too much sugar and features large cups of soda set against the backdrop of a man with an amputated leg with the text: “Portions have grown. So has Type 2 diabetes, which can lead to amputations.”

The message seems straight forward enough, and despite protests from the America Beverage Associate, the health department has research to back up the poster’s claim. In a news release about the campaign, the health department said that in 2006, nearly 3,000 New Yorkers with diabetes were hospitalized for amputations.

But it’s not the message, that’s garnering the extra spotlight on this ad, it’s the image. When city officials announced the campaign on Jan. 9, they did not let on that the man shown — whose photo came from a stock photo company images— was not an amputee and may not have diabetes. The man’s face is positioned out of the frame in the ad and the health department not only used Photoshop to remove his right leg from below the knee, but added crutches in the background.

Amid criticisms that the image is misleading, health department spokesman John Kelly, said: “Sometimes we use individuals who are suffering from the particular disease; other times we have to use actors. We might stop using actors in our ads if the food industry stops using actors in theirs.”

Via. New York Times