Just as typewriters, incandescent light bulbs and public telephones are out of date and forgotten, the Health Ministry hopes that drinking and providing guests with soft drinks will become obsolete. It has created public-service videos in Hebrew and subtitled in Arabic, Russian and Amharic (but, alas, not in English) that portray colas and other sugar-packed cold drinks as obsolete in 2035.
A museum guide is showing young children through an exhibit of the “Unpleasant Era” in which soft drinks with 30 teaspoons of sugar per bottle are on display. The children tell her they can hardly believe that Israelis were buying and consuming soft drinks until the first quarter of the 21st century.
“Didn’t they care about the health of their guests and their children?” one of them asks the guide. “They thought they were giving them a treat,” the guide answers, with the children reacting in disbelief.
At the end of the 60-second video, they reach the “Pleasant Era,” when cold water is offered straight or with thin slices of cucumbers, oranges or watermelon.
But in 2022, Israeli supermarket shelves and media ads are packed with colas and other soft drinks of different colors.
There is also a shorter video warning that diet beverages are also harmful to health.
The public-service messages were created by the Health Ministry to “warn of the significant increase in the food companies’ spending on harmful food advertising, and especially on the advertising of soft drinks, which is a high percentage of the food companies’ total spending on advertising.”
The “End of the Unpleasant Era” campaign encourages the consumption of water over the consumption of soft drinks.
Food culture is full of temptations
“Our food environment is full of temptations and stimuli that encourage the consumption of soft drinks, snacks and fast food, and they apparently have a decisive effect on obesity rates and the development of diseases, such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, obesity and dental decay,” said Prof. Ronit Endevelt, director of the ministry’s nutrition division.
“We are promoting moves aimed at changing the food environment and the nutritional norm to significantly reduce the consumption of sweet and sugary drinks and food with red markings and to promote a healthful and sustainable diet,” she said. “Many recent studies discuss the impact of advertising on decision-making, especially among children and teenagers. There is an extensive public debate about the degree of responsibility that our food environment, food availability and advertising have on our decisions about what to eat and what not to eat.”
Just as it is possible to advertise unhealthy food, “it is possible to advertise and encourage the consumption of more healthful food and a preference for drinking water – actions that will benefit all of us, health-wise, environmentally and financially,” Endevelt said.