Health posters show the fine art of persuasion

Don’t be a dumbo, eat healthy

Elephants never forget their greens, and nor should you. At least, that’s the message this 1951 poster from the British ministry of food is trying to convey.

Of course, gentle reminders to eat healthily aren’t always enough. Last year, Denmark began a controversial new scheme to tax unhealthy foods, despite having fewer obese citizens than the European average. Denmark was also the first country to ban trans fats in 2003.

(Image: SSPL/Getty Images)

Got cod liver oil?

Pro-milk advertisements are all the rage now, but in this 1950s poster, the spotlight is on orange juice and cod liver oil. During the second world war, the British government gave children under the age of 3 rations of the tasty drinks to supplement their vitamin D and C intakes, thereby preventing rickets and scurvy.

(Image: SSPL/Getty Images)


Spirit of safe driving

Obviously, there are significant health risks involved in drinking petrol – and putting whisky in your car isn’t too great for its health either. However, this 1937 poster from Pennsylvania is actually about preventing drunk driving.

It was produced by the Federal Art Project, a depression-era programme to provide work relief to artists in the US which resulted in hundreds of stunning posters with public-interest themes.

(Image: Everett Collection/Rex Features)

Will five-a-day keep the doctor away?

The benefits of eating fruit are well known, as this poster from 1936 attests. However, are the currently recommended daily five portions of fruit and veg really enough?

In January, New Scientist reported on an eight-year study of 300,000 Europeans in eight countries, which found that eating eight daily portions of fruit and veg reduced the risk of heart disease by 22 per cent, compared with people who ate fewer than three portions (European Heart Journal, DOI: 10.1093/eurheartj/ehq465).

(Image: Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, Washington, D.C. )

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