Actor Digitally Amputated for NYC Health Department Diabetes Ad Campaign

January 30, 2012

The New York City Department of Health is raising awareness for Type 2 diabetes through a shocking ad campaign that features able-bodied actor Cleo Berry digitally amputated to illustrate the dangers of sugary soda and fast food. Berry posed for the photo shoot several years ago, but wasn't aware that the photos he took would be retouched to remove a limb.

"I was beyond shocked," he told the New York Times. Berry also said that the city should have used a real image of someone who has Type 2 diabetes if its intent was to show the debilitating facets of the disease: "You are New York City, for God's sake. Give it to us the right way or we won't believe you at all."

Health department spokesman John Kelly responded to the controversy in a statement that said, in part, "This issue isn't about one actor but rather the 700,000 New Yorkers who struggle with diabetes, which kills 1,700 people a year and causes amputations in another 3,000. Advertising to warn the public about health concerns saves lives, and we will continue our efforts to warn New Yorkers about diabetes."

A photo of the ad, courtesy of the New York Times, appears below. Do you think the health department should have used an actor with diabetes for further authenticity?

new york city department of health

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