Unprecedented and rising levels of industrial animal farming are undermining the highest attainable standard of health that is WHO’s mandate. During the 2016 World Health Assembly, Director-General Margaret Chan highlighted climate change, antibiotic resistance, and chronic diseases as “slow-motion disasters.” However, their fundamental link to industrial animal farming has continued to be disregarded. A group of scientists and advocates have written an Open Letter to the new Director General of the World Health Organization that describes industrial animal farming as a serious global health challenge. The letter makes the case that while the consumption of meat and other animal products is part of most cultures, large-scale industrial animal farming has gone beyond satisfying dietary needs and cultural practices. The extent to which we now produce and consume animal products is harming our health.
The Trump Administration has postponed implementation of the Food and Drug Administration’s menu labeling rules, but New York City is moving ahead with its own set of rules, reports Convenience Store News. On May 18, Mayor Bill de Blasio said that all city chain food retailers offering prepared foods, or “restaurant-type foods,” will be required to post calorie counts on menu boards. In addition, chain restaurants and retailers will be required to have full nutritional information — not just calories — for standard menu items available on site, and they will have to post a statement about the daily recommended caloric intake of 2,000 calories.
During the campaign, President Donald Trump threatened to withdraw from NAFTA, calling it “a disaster since the day it was devised,” write Alyshia Galvez and Nicholas Freudenberg in an op ed in the Dallas Morning News. But last week, he said he will “bring NAFTA up to date through renegotiation.” However, neither Trump nor those on either side of the trade wars has given any hint that they know about one of NAFTA’s most distressing consequences: its adverse impact on the health of the Mexican people. For those who believe that fair trade agreements can benefit all, the goal should be a renegotiated NAFTA that puts the well-being of all North Americans first. A trade agreement that favors sustainable agriculture, labor mobility and a food system oriented toward health — not corporate profits — would be good for us all.
In a victory for public health, reports Salon, the board of the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second-largest school district in the country, adopted a resolution to end McDonald’s McTeacher’s Nights. The resolution comes as millions of parents, educators and health professionals call on junk food corporations to stop kid-targeted marketing. To date, United Teachers Los Angeles, the National Education Association and more than 50 state and local teachers unions, representing more than 3 million educators nationwide, have demanded junk food corporations stop marketing to children in schools. McTeacher’s Nights are events at which McDonald’s invites teachers to “work” behind a McDonald’s counter and serve McDonald’s burgers, fries, and soda to students, students’ families, and other people eating at the restaurant. McDonald’s, in return, donates a small percentage of the night’s proceeds to the school — often amounting to only $1-2 per student.
The tie up between Danone’s North American dairy business and WhiteWave has created one of the top-15 U.S. food and beverages companies by sales, as well the country’s no. 1 dairy business (excluding cheese), reports Fortune. But the new unit, called DanoneWave, now tops another ranking and one that has nothing to do with food: On April 12, the day the acquisition of WhiteWave was approved, the newly formed enterprise received its status of “public benefit corporation”—the largest company in the U.S. to have that distinction. A benefit corporation has a certain legal framework that is meant to hold a company to a higher standard than the pure pursuit of profit. Instead, it’s mandated to balance the interests of all stakeholders, rather than prioritize shareholders, and is required to create a positive impact on society.
Image from Youth Food Educators of East Harlem
Countermarketing campaigns use health communications to reduce the demand for unhealthy products by exposing motives and undermining marketing practices of producers. These campaigns can contribute to the prevention of noncommunicable diseases by denormalizing the marketing of tobacco, alcohol, and unhealthy food. By portraying these activities as outside the boundaries of civilized corporate behavior, countermarketing can reduce the demand for unhealthy products and lead to changes in industry marketing practices. Countermarketing blends consumer protection, media advocacy, and health education with the demand for corporate accountability. Countermarketing campaigns have been demonstrated to be an effective component of comprehensive tobacco control. This review describes common elements of tobacco countermarketing such as describing adverse health consequences, appealing to negative emotions, highlighting industry manipulation of consumers, and engaging users in the design or implementation of campaigns. It then assesses the potential for using these elements to reduce consumption of alcohol and unhealthy foods.
Full citation: Palmedo PC, Dorfman L, Garza S, Murphy E, Freudenberg N. Countermarketing Alcohol and Unhealthy Food: An Effective Strategy for Preventing Noncommunicable Diseases? Lessons from Tobacco. Annu Rev Public Health. 2017;38:119-144.
Unhealthful food-and-beverage advertising often targets vulnerable groups. In this study, investigators systematically assessed all print ads (n = 1586) in all subway stations in the Bronx (n = 68) in 2012. There were no ads promoting “more-healthful” food-or-beverage items (i.e., fruits, vegetables, whole grains, nuts, water or milk). There were many ads for “less-healthful” items (e.g., candies, chips, sugary cereals, frozen pizzas, “energy” drinks, coffee confections, hard alcohol, and beer). Ad placement did not relate to the number of riders entering at stations. Instead, exposure to food-or-beverage ads generally, and to “less-healthful” ads particularly (specifically ads in Spanish, directed at youth, and/or featuring minorities), was directly correlated with poverty, lower high-school graduation rates, higher percentages of Hispanics, and/or higher percentages of children in surrounding residential areas. Additional analyses suggested correlations between ad exposures and sugary-drink consumption, fruit-and-vegetable intake, and diabetes, hypertension, and high-cholesterol rates. Subway-station ads for “less-healthful” items were located disproportionately in areas home to vulnerable populations facing diet and diet-related-health challenges. The fact that uneven ad placement did not relate to total rider counts suggests ads were not directed at the largest possible audiences but rather targeted to specific groups.
Full citation: Lucan SC, Maroko AR, Sanon OC, Schechter CB. Unhealthful Food-and-Beverage Advertising in Subway Stations: Targeted Marketing, Vulnerable Groups, Dietary Intake, and Poor Health. J Urban Health. 2017;94(2):220-232.