Funding prevention in California: Lessons from past efforts to raise revenues [pdf]

When it comes to prevention, the question isn't what works, the question is: how can we pay for what we know will create healthy environments? In this report, we examine whether past efforts to raise revenues in the realms of alcohol, tobacco, and lead paint might hold promise in the realm of food and activity. We present six case studies of those efforts and an analysis of news coverage of three California attempts to raise taxes or attach a fee to junk food or soda.

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Working upstream: Skills for social change [pdf]

Public health needs more practitioners who can bridge the gap between research and practice, and more students who can advocate for social change. Unfortunately, degree-granting public health programs generally do not provide systematic training in advocacy. Recognizing this gap, BMSG worked with professor Susan Sorenson and dean Lawrence Wallack to develop a curriculum and resource guide that could be adapted by public health programs to teach social advocacy. We enlisted the participation of faculty, nonprofit public health leaders, students and recent graduates from across the nation.

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Issue 17: Debates from four states over selling soda in schools

In 2006, Connecticut, Indiana, Massachusetts, and Maryland introduced legislation that included restrictions on the sales of sodas in schools. That same year, the Alliance for a Healthier Generation brokered a deal among soda companies to restrict soda sales in schools. We wanted to know: How were the arguments for and against restricting access to soda and junk food being portrayed in news and in testimony before lawmakers? Who was making the arguments, and what were they saying?

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Video: More than a message: Framing issues from public health

Delivering the keynote address for the 2008 True Spin Conference in Denver, BMSG's director Lori Dorfman explains our approach to media advocacy, why message is never first, and what public health advocates need to know about framing.

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Provoking thought, changing talk: Discussing inequality [pdf]

Does a commitment to reducing inequality mean that we know how to talk about it? We find out in this report, the inaugural issue of the "You Can Get There From Here" paper series from The Social Equity and Opportunity Forum at Portland State University. First, Joe Grady and Axel Aubrun of Cultural Logic discuss the difficulties inherent in talking about inequality. Then BMSG director Lori Dorfman and Larry Wallack explore how to overcome those difficulties and put changes into practice.

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Food marketers greenwash junk food: Companies tout link to health and environmental movements

This framing brief explains how food and beverage companies are borrowing the symbolism of the environmental movement to cast a favorable "green" light on themselves and their products. But many of the products they label green are still high in fat, salt and calories, and whether they are eco-friendly is open to debate.

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Using media advocacy to influence policy

This chapter was written to help public health advocates think strategically about working with the news media. This means switching from thinking about using mass media solely as a tool for getting information to health consumers to thinking about the news media as a mechanism for informing citizens and pressuring decision makers.

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Interactive food & beverage marketing: Targeting children and youth in the digital age -- full report [pdf]

The proliferation of media in children's lives has created a new "marketing and media ecosystem" that encompasses mobile devices, social networks, instant messaging, video games, and virtual, three-dimensional worlds. This report examines how these new marketing practices are fundamentally transforming how food and beverage companies do business with young people in the 21st century.

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This Web site exposes the immersive and often insidious practices food and beverage companies use to market their products to children and youth online, using everything from Web sites to mobile phones. The foods and beverages being marketed are, by and large, among those that health experts, including the Institute of Medicine, have said children should avoid. Visit the site to learn more about digital marketing, read reports from experts on the subject, and keep up-to-date on the latest ad campaigns.

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Reading between the lines: Understanding food industry responses to concerns about nutrition

When a food or beverage company does something that might be good for health, should public health groups congratulate them publicly? If not, why not? When companies' words don't match their deeds, the answers are not always clear. This framing brief describes how food and beverage companies are reacting to pressure from public health groups and explores implications for framing public health's responses to those actions.

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Layers of strategy [pdf]

This document outlines BMSG's four-stage approach to media advocacy planning, a process we call the layers of strategy. It follows the idea that message should never be first or foremost. Rather, the first and most important stage involves developing an overall strategy tied to an advocacy campaign's specific policy goal. Media, message and media access strategies follow.

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Navigating the trade press -- food industry sources appendix [xls]

This appendix to Navigating the trade press: What are the food and beverage industries discussing contains a wealth of sources to help map public and industry conversations on nutrition and activity.

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Navigating the trade press: What are the food and beverage industries discussing?

Our public conversation about food and beverage policy is influenced by many sources, including industry stakeholders. But public health advocates are often at a disadvantage when facing corporate heavyweights simply because they are not privy to the same information. To help give advocates working to prevent obesity an understanding of food and advertising literature, we mapped the food, beverage, and advertising trade press, a rich source of information on the industries that, to a large degree, determines what Americans eat. [download appendix]

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Moving nutrition upstream: The case for reframing obesity [pdf]

Nutrition is often described primarily as a matter of individual responsibility, which results in a focus on limited strategies that are unlikely to be successful. Public health advocates need to change the terms of debate or "reframe" the issue so that the context around individuals -- the social, economic, and political context -- comes into view. This paper uses obesity as an example of the need for reframing in nutrition and offers suggestions on reframing based on lessons learned from other public health issues.

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Interactive food & beverage marketing: Targeting children and youth in the digital age -- brief report

This report by Jeff Chester from the Center for Digital Democracy and Kathryn Montgomery from American University describes new marketing practices that are fundamentally transforming how food and beverage companies do business with young people in the twenty-first century. See additional examples, news coverage, and statements from Marion Nestle, Kelly Brownell, the Strategic Alliance, Senator Tom Harkin, and Congressman Edward J. Markey at View the full report.

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Issue 16: Moving from head to heart: Using media advocacy to talk about affordable housing

This is the story of how a group of dedicated but frustrated affordable housing advocates learned to tell their story so it reflected their values and the values that resonated with policy makers. What they thought would be a simple refresher course in working with the media transformed their own understanding of affordable housing, how to talk about it, and, ultimately, what was done about it.

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The problem with obesity

Obesity has become the popular term for a set of problems that result in premature death and injury from diabetes, heart disease, and cancer. It is a convenient term, but we should stop using it. This framing brief explains why.

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Luchemos contra la promoción de alimentos chatarra entre los niños [pdf]

Las comunidades que se enfrentan a la obesidad se sienten frustradas por practicas de mercadotecnia que promueven alimentos y bebidas insalubres como opciones atractivas, disponibles, y asequibles. Pero partidarios de estas comunidades pueden luchar con éxito contra estas practicas. Esta conjunto de herramientas contiene ejemplos y historias que estas comunidades pueden utilizar para reducir la mercadotecnia y promoción desagradables. Tambien disponible en Inglés.

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Fighting junk food marketing to kids: A toolkit for advocates [pdf]

Communities confronting obesity are frustrated by the corporate marketing practices that make unhealthy foods and beverages attractive, easily available and readily affordable. But local advocates are not powerless to do something about this issue. This toolkit provides examples and stories of what local communities can do to limit the reach of unwanted marketing and promotion. Also available in Spanish.

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Video: Fighting junk food marketing to kids

Food and beverage corporations' marketing practices go far beyond TV advertising. This video illustrates the extent of the problem and what local groups can do about it. Contact us for a DVD version. Also available in Spanish.

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Video: Luchemos contra la promocin de alimentos chatarra entre los niños

La mercadotecnia de las industrias de alimentos y bebidas insalubres no se cumple con los anuncios de televisión. Este video demuestra el alcance del problema, y presenta soluciones para partidarios de comunidades. Póngase en contacto con BMSG para obtener un DVD. Tambien disponible en Inglés.

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Framing the economic benefits of investments in early childhood development

The early childhood development (ECD) field has been energized by a chorus of new voices from outside its ranks: economists. Their arguments reinforce what those in the ECD field have known for some time: that benefits from quality ECD programs accrue not only to individual children and families, but also to society as a whole. But explaining that to those outside the field has not been easy. This paper aims to make that job easier.

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More than a message: Framing public health advocacy to change corporate practices

Framing battles in public health illustrate the tension in our society between individual freedom and collective responsibility. This article describes how two frames, market justice and social justice, first articulated in a public health context by Dan Beauchamp, influence public dialogue on the health consequences of corporate practices. It also offers lessons for health education practitioners who need to frame public health issues in contentious and controversial policy contexts.

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Accelerating policy on nutrition: Lessons from tobacco, alcohol, firearms, and traffic safety [pdf]

Public health advocates in tobacco, alcohol, firearms, and traffic safety struggled for years before understanding that individual approaches alone won't suffice and that environmental (or policy) approaches to prevention had to be part of the mix. This report looks at how public health got to the point of pushing policy in other arenas so that public health funders, researchers, and practitioners might adapt and apply those lessons to preventing and reducing obesity.

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Meta messaging framing your case and reinforcing your allies

Advocates working on issues as different as gay marriage and affordable housing can construct messages that serve their own immediate strategic needs and, at the same time, echo one another's larger goals for social change. This memo explains why we think that's possible and how to do it.

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