Today, the Council on Black Health, a research and action network dedicated to improving Black health nationwide.
Launched a new, national campaign, Operation Good Food & Beverages (OGF&B), to engage Black youth in a movement to promote healthier food and beverage options and counteract widespread unhealthy food marketing. OGF&B is an initiative by and for Black youth who recognize the history of unhealthy food marketing and speak out on the need for healthy foods and beverages to be more available and promoted in Black communities.
The effort is in partnership with HeartSmiles, the Center for Science in the Public Interest, and the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Health at the University of Connecticut, and with support from the Bloomberg American Health Initiative at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, and Evoke, a global brand, experience, and communications platform.
OGF&B addresses a growing and urgent health crisis in the Black community. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Black communities experience a heavy burden of obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular diseases. This is fueled in part by higher-than-average exposure of Black youth to the marketing of fast foods, sugary drinks, and other unhealthy products. Analyses from the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Health found that in 2019, Black youth viewed, on average, nearly three fast-food ads per day – 75 percent more than their White counterparts.
“Patterns of racially targeted marketing of unhealthy food and beverages have not improved to any significant degree despite decades of public health criticism and calls for companies to change them,” said Shiriki Kumanyika, PhD, MPH, a research professor at Drexel University’s Dornsife School of Public Health and a lead researcher for OGF&B. “We believe a positive approach that expresses Black community views about the benefits of healthy foods and connects good foods to Black culture can spark change.”
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Healthy eating has long played an influential role in Black communities. During the Civil Rights Movement, plant-based diets were central to many Black activists who saw the diet as a pathway to Black health and liberation. Today, for reasons from achieving health goals to connecting with African heritage, Black youth are among those spearheading the plant-based movement, with 50 percent of vegans identifying as Black or Latino.
OGF&B highlights the positive impact marketing of healthy foods and beverages can have on Black community health and well-being through the eyes of Black youth, who have contributed directly to the project through development of the website and social media channels, including content and videos. The campaign’s new website features community-inspired and nutritionist-approved recipes that can be used as part of a seven-day healthy food challenge, and it is working with Black influencers on TikTok and Instagram to help amplify the message. The campaign is also calling on the National Restaurant Association, via a petition on Change.org, to encourage its 380,000 member restaurants to apply existing Kids LiveWell nutrition standards to menu items that are popular with Black youth up to age 18 instead of the current age 12 and commit to promoting these healthier options. Through these efforts, OGF&B aims to amplify Black youth voices. and tackle an ongoing problem.
“Black youth will be the voice of this movement, but we all have a role to play,” said Kumanyika. “We hope that parents, advocates, advertisers, restaurants, food and beverage companies, celebrities and policymakers will all step up and join us to say now is the time to promote better food and beverage options in our communities. Our youth deserve it.”
Operation Good Food & Beverages
Operation Good Food & Beverages was developed with youth leadership from HeartSmilesMD, an enrichment and leadership development program serving youth in Baltimore’s most underserved communities, and is a project launched by the Council on Black Health, a research and action network dedicated to improving Black health nationwide. Support is provided by the Bloomberg American Health Initiative. Learn more at operationgoodfb.com and follow the campaign on TikTok and Instagram.
Bloomberg American Health Initiative
Through education, research, and practice, the Bloomberg American Health Initiative aims to impact five challenges to the nation’s health: addiction and overdose, adolescent health, environmental challenges, obesity and the food system, and violence. One part of the Initiative, the Bloomberg Fellows Program, offers full scholarships for MPH and DrPH degrees for individuals working on the front lines to advance health in the U.S. The Initiative was founded with a gift from Bloomberg Philanthropies in honor of the centennial of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. Learn more at americanhealth.jhu.edu.
Evoke provided several pro bono services for the OGF&B campaign including creative, strategic, and social media direction along with media buying. Evoke is a leading global brand, experience, and communications platform, purpose-built to make health more human™. Organized by global practice areas and specialty agencies, Evoke uses data-driven insights, creativity, and applied innovation to solve the most complex of challenges in today’s healthcare market. Evoke is a platform for clients, talent, and the communities they serve to unlock their full potential. For more information, visit Evokegroup.com.
Source: Operation Good Food & Beverages