Wednesday, October 03, 2012

City of Ottawa Encourages Exercise As An Excuse to Eat Junk Food?

Sure, I get it. I'm sure I've even done it. I've eaten indulgently, "because I exercised", but when I was driving behind the bus that told me, "Less Sit, More Whip", with a photo of what looks like a mocha frappuccino, I did a double take.

Honestly, it said, "Less sit, more whip".

Yes, if you actually bother finding the URL and heading to it you'll learn it comes from a City run campaign encouraging active commuting and indeed, if your commute to work includes a brisk walk of 1hr and 20mins each way you'd burn off the Quarter Pounder worth of calories in a Grande Mocha Frappuccino with Whip. Cycling's a bit better - there it'd just take you a fair paced 30 minutes each way.

Unfortunately this campaign does two things wrong. It implies exercise burns far more calories than it actually does, and it basically serves as free advertising for junk food.

Off the top of my head couldn't the campaign have focused on things like coming off medications, playing with grandchildren, going on dream active vacations?

Yes junk food's part of our modern day world. And yes, even I sometimes indulge in it, but my double take had to do with the fact that there's no question in my mind cities (and my tax dollars) shouldn't be encouraging the consumption of junk food or suggesting that exercise buys people a free pass to the candy store.

[Also of note - Ottawa's Public Health (OPH) department had privately criticized this message before it was unleashed on the public. In speaking with them yesterday they noted, "it's counter-productive to everything we're trying to do", and that they are, "very disappointed that they (the folks who commissioned the ad) didn't feel strongly enough to change their visuals". Makes me wonder why the OPH isn't given more clout in City sponsored public health messaging?]