Publications

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Video: Bringing health equity to the message environment: Policy issues

In this presentation, as part of the Institute of Medicine workshop Creating Equal Opportunities for a Healthy Weight, BMSG's Lori Dorfman discusses how our message environment undermines health equity by targeting youth (especially youth of color) with marketing for unhealthy foods. Dorfman says this type of targeting often happens without parents' knowledge and makes recommendations for change, including conducting more research and pushing for policies that strengthen nutrition standards and hold industry accountable.

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The digital food marketing landscape: Challenges for researchers

In spite of a rapid growth in digital marketing, research on how it affects children's health has failed to keep pace with changing industry practices. This chapter, part of Advances in Communication Research to Reduce Childhood Obesity, presents a conceptual framework for understanding how digital marketing differs from traditional forms of marketing and identifies challenges for researchers.

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Video: Authentic community engagement

In the heat of a campaign, it can be easy to forget that advocacy is about more than winning a particular policy change. It's about values and relationships -- and that requires dialogue. In this brown bag discussion, Francisco (Pancho) Argüelles, executive director of the Living Hope Wheelchair Association, encourages us to step outside our comfort zones and learn how to open the space for conversation so that we can become better allies to communities struggling for justice.

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Video: Making the case for government

Advocates work tirelessly for social change on a variety of issues. But their efforts may be thwarted by underlying negative attitudes toward government and a widespread misunderstanding of its role in creating a healthy, functioning society. As part of BMSG's 20th anniversary brown bag series, Patrick Bresette, program director for Public Works, explores how we can tackle this problem and build public support for a government dedicated to the common good.

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It's not just for teens: Viral marketing to young children

Food companies use viral digital marketing tactics, which may be considered deceptive and in violation of state consumer protection laws, to induce children to share email addresses of their friends and spread brand advertising of unhealthy foods among their peers. This legal issue brief, prepared by the Public Health Advocacy Institute in collaboration with BMSG and the Center for Digital Democracy, explains the tactics being used and suggests ways they can be addressed, particularly under state law.

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Marketing sugary cereals to children in the digital age: A content analysis of 17 child-targeted websites

Cereal companies, the third biggest food marketer to children, are using sophisticated online marketing techniques to target kids with unhealthy products and get them to engage with brands in ways not possible through television advertising. In this study, BMSG's Andrew Cheyne, Lori Dorfman and Eliana Bukofzer, along with the Yale Rudd Center's Jennifer Harris, explore cereal companies' digital marketing tactics and implications for public health.

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Food and beverage marketing to children and adolescents: Limited progress by 2012, recommendations for the future -- brief report

Although research suggests that healthy products can be profitable for the food industry, marketers continue to target children with ads for foods and beverages that are unhealthy, cheap and widely available. Such marketing is linked to overweight, obesity and related health problems. This brief report, prepared by Healthy Eating Research based on BMSG research, explains the scope of the problem and offers recommendations for improvement.  

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Food and beverage marketing to children and adolescents: Limited progress by 2012, recommendations for the future -- full report

American children and adolescents remain exposed to a disproportionate amount of marketing for unhealthy foods and beverages, in spite of some progress by industry, government and schools to improve young people's food environments. This report -- a review of academic and industry literature on trends in food marketing to youth, as well as policy interventions -- explains what this means for public health researchers and advocates looking to improve kids' health.

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Talking about sugar sweetened-beverage taxes: Will actions speak louder than words?

In spite of the role that sugar-sweetened beverages play in chronic health problems, public health advocates face formidable challenges in arguing for a tax on them. In this article, BMSG's Lori Dorfman explains the backdrop that makes passing a soda tax so difficult and what advocates can do to increase the public's understanding of and support for such a solution. (Purchase required to view full text.)

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Blogging tips for media advocates

Blogging can be a powerful communications tool for media advocacy. Whether you are just getting started or have been blogging for years, here are some tips and tricks to help your organization build and maintain a better blog. Read more >

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Little improvement on food marketing to children

Children in the U.S. continue to grow up in environments saturated by food and beverage marketing, the bulk of it for foods low in nutrients and high in calories, sugars, salt or fats. In spite of the threat this poses to kids' health, the food industry has balked at adopting even voluntary guidelines to improve its marketing practices. As BMSG's Lori Dorfman and CSPI's Margo Wootan show in this article, addressing an issue of this magnitude will require an international commitment to healthy food marketing policies.

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Issue 20: Struggling to breathe: How a health department is working with community members to reduce air pollution and improve health equity in Oakland

If you want to reduce and prevent health inequities, then you have to tackle their root social, economic and political causes. For busy health departments with tight deadlines and funding constraints, this no easy task. But, as one health department in California's Alameda County is showing, the results are worth it. And a few key strategies like collaborating with community and engaging the media can improve prospects for success.

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Video: Overcoming challenges and constructing effective responses to sugary drinks

At the 2012 National Soda Summit, BMSG Director Lori Dorfman speaks about soda industry marketing as part of a panel on sugary drinks. Dorfman discusses common opposition arguments to policy interventions, lessons from research on public opinion, and framing insights from tobacco control.

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Youth and minority marketing

At the 2012 National Soda Summit in Washington, D.C., BMSG's Andrew Cheyne discusses why soda companies target children of color, the tactics they use to target market to African American and Latino youth, and how marketers are pushing the boundaries with multicultural youth-focused messages.

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News coverage of child sexual abuse and prevention, 2007-2009

News media coverage of child sexual abuse can help policymakers and the public understand what must be done to prevent future abuse, but coverage tends to focus on extreme cases. So how do the media frame child sexual abuse in the absence of high-profile cases? In this article, BMSG's Pamela Mejia, Andrew Cheyne and Lori Dorfman present an analysis of newspaper coverage of the issue and offer recommendations to help advocates shape reporting in ways that highlight the need for prevention.

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Media advocacy: A strategy for helping communities change policy

Policy determines the structure of society and the rules by which we live. In this chapter, part of the 3rd edition of Community Organizing and Community Building for Health and Welfare, Lori Dorfman and Priscilla Gonzalez show how communities can use media advocacy to shape policy and influence social conditions and environments in ways that support health.

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Webinar: Food marketing and the consequences for Latino children and youth

Junk food marketers disproportionately target Latino children, putting them at an increased risk of developing diabetes and other chronic illnesses. In this webinar for MALDEF and PreventObesity.net, BMSG's Priscilla Gonzalez discusses how corporations use digital technology, such as advergames and mobile apps, to reach Latino youth -- a group known for being early adopters of online tools and trends.

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The new threat of digital marketing

The rise of marketing strategies tailored to today's social media landscape have made children and teens increasingly vulnerable to food and beverage industry marketing -- often for unhealthy products. Marketers are exploiting youth's relationship with digital media to foster engagement with their brands. Authors Kathryn Montgomery, Jeff Chester, Sonya Grier and BMSG's Lori Dorfman call for a set of fair marketing principles and practices both to protect youth and allow them to participate online. (Registration required to view full text.)

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Soda and tobacco industry corporate social responsibility campaigns: How do they compare? [pdf]

In response to concerns about the link between sugary beverages and obesity, soda manufacturers are using costly and elaborate corporate social responsibility (CSR) campaigns to shift the blame for their products' health harms onto consumers, boost product popularity, and prevent regulation. In this article for PLoS Medicine, authors from BMSG and Public Health Advocacy Institute show that such tactics resemble those used by the tobacco industry.

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Webinar: Working with the media to end child sexual abuse

The media play a powerful role in the public's and policy leaders' understanding of the child sexual abuse and potential solutions. In this webinar, the second in a series of nine web conferences on Ending Child Sexual Abuse, BMSG and Frameworks Institute discuss studies related to the coverage of child sexual abuse and its prevention. This conference series is a collaboration between PreventConnect and Ms. Foundation for Women. View the webinar slides or recording.

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Webinar: Making the case for healthy food and activity environments: Shaping public debate with framing and messages

By harnessing the power of the media to highlight effective environmental and policy solutions, advocates can advance the public discussion on health from the ground up. In this webinar, Strategic Alliance and BMSG helped participants learn to craft effective messages to reframe critical food and physical-activity related issues from an upstream perspective. Download the slides or view the recording.

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The nation needs to do more to address food marketing to children

In spite of high childhood obesity rates, food and beverage marketers continue to target youth with increasingly sophisticated ads for foods and drinks high in salt, sugars, and fats. The Institute of Medicine has made strong recommendations for how the food industry and government can reverse the situation, but a new report shows these groups have made little progress. In this commentary, BMSG's Lori Dorfman and Margo Wootan, of the Center for Science in the Public Interest, call for a national commitment to addressing food marketing to children.

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Webinar: How junk food marketing creates unhealthy environments for children, and what we can do about it

The United States is in the middle of an obesity crisis that's putting large numbers of adults and children at risk of developing health problems such as diabetes and cancer. With its aggressive marketing of junk food to kids, the food industry is part of the problem. In this webinar, BMSG's Andrew Cheyne discusses how marketing works, common tactics food marketers use to reach children, and what we can do about it. The webcast also includes presentations on cancer prevention, community health, and tobacco marketing to kids

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Breaking news on child sexual abuse: Early coverage of Penn State

News coverage of child sexual abuse is typically infrequent compared to how often it actually occurs. But in November 2011, the arrest of Penn State assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky on charges of child sexual abuse catapulted the issue into the spotlight and generated an extraordinary volume of coverage. In this report, BMSG examines news coverage generated in the first 9 days of the Sandusky case, compares it to our earlier findings about how child sexual abuse is usually covered, and offers suggestions to reporters and advocates based on our observations.

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Webinar: Media planning for policy change

Engaging the media around prevention policy can be challenging for advocates working to end intimate partner violence. This webinar takes participants through the key steps of developing an effective media advocacy plan, including setting goals and objectives, identifying strategies, assessing resources and planning for timely news coverage.

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