Food & Activity Environments

the problem

Our surroundings affect how healthy we are. Yet, too often, our communities don’t provide the conditions necessary to eat well and be active. In many cases, this leaves adults and kids with easier access to fast food than fresh produce, more broken sidewalks than safe parks, and a greater chance of getting sick than living well. And the ubiquity of food and beverage marketing only complicates the matter. Advertisers are increasingly finding new ways to sidestep parents and market high-calorie, nutritionally bankrupt products directly to youth. With advertising now reaching children and teens through the Internet and cell phones, even most vigilant parents are fighting impossible odds to keep their kids healthy.

the path to success

Healthy populations live in communities that offer easy access to nutritious, affordable food and safe places to exercise and play. Supporting healthy public policies can help us get there. Examples include stricter regulations to reduce junk food marketing to kids; smart growth zoning laws, which locate homes closer to schools and public transportation, making it easier for people to walk more and drive less; and joint use agreements, which allow schools and communities to share resources like gyms and athletic fields, giving people more places to be active.

BMSG's connection

At BMSG, we help advocates communicate to policymakers and the public that people's environments affect their health. Since 2004, we have been providing training and technical assistance to the community-based advocates of The California Endowment's Healthy Eating Active Communities and Central California Regional Obesity Prevention Program. In 2009, we worked with the Joint Use Statewide Task Force to develop, a website that gives visibility to the connection between school-community partnerships and health. We also helped advocates at the California WIC Association fine-tune their messages about the community-wide health benefits of breastfeeding.

Making the oral health case for soda taxes

BMSG's recent news analysis of soda tax debates revealed that oral health professionals seldom appear in coverage. In this journal article for the California Dental Association, we propose media advocacy strategies that oral health professionals can use to elevate their expert voices, make salient arguments for soda taxes and help advance public policy that improves oral health outcomes. More >

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