Recently, the New York City Health Department released a new round of ads that bash certain beverages, like juice drinks and sports drinks. What has us scratching our heads (along with the sensationalized content of the ads) is that the ads were released around the same time as headlines are reporting a steady decline in soft drink consumption over the past decade. So, what gives?

The latest analysis of National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) data published last month in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that calories consumed from sugar-sweetened beverages have been dropping over the past decade, with the sharpest decline beginning in 2006. This declining consumption is true for both children and adults. The report aligns with previously recorded government data on soft drink consumption and beverage industry sales data.

Specifically, the report finds that on average, children are consuming 68 fewer calories per day from soda than in 2000 with adults consuming 45 fewer calories per day. This marks “relatively large declines in soda consumption” including fruit juice. The lead author of the report noted that there has been no corresponding drop in obesity rates over the time soft drink consumption decreased. He told Reuters Health: “During our 12-year study duration, obesity prevalence, although high, has remained stable.”

New York City and several cities in California have been running exaggerated ads depicting gross-out and – in BOTH places – fabricated and photoshopped images “warning” consumers to avoid soft drinks. Our readers may remember a similar ad campaign from last year that pictured a diabetic amputee. The subject of the ad turned out to be a victim of a Photoshop amputation. It seems California has adopted this tactic of exaggeration by digitally altering photos for their ads, too.

These ads are a waste of taxpayer money, completely misguided and ineffective (in some instances, hurtful). Soft drinks are not driving obesity rates. Resorting to scare tactics and attack ads does everyone a disservice.