Operation Good Food & Beverages tackles growing health crisis by launching youth-led movement against junk food marketing

The campaign works with black youth and influencers to promote healthier food options and calls on the National Restaurant Association to promote menu changes

BALTIMORE, July 7, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — Today, the Council on Black Health, a research and action network dedicated to improving the health of Black people nationwide, launched a new national campaign, Operation Good Food & Beverages (OGF&B), to engage Black youth on the move to promote healthier food and drink options and counter the widespread marketing of unhealthy foods. OGF&B is an initiative by and for Black youth who recognize the history of junk food marketing and speak out for the need to make healthy foods and beverages more accessible and popular 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 University of Connecticutand with support from the Bloomberg America Health Initiative at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Evoke, a global brand, experience and communication 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 disease. This is fueled in part by black youth’s higher-than-average exposure to marketing of fast food, sugary drinks and other unhealthy products. Analyzes from the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Health found that in 2019, black youth viewed an average of nearly three fast-food ads per day — 75 percent more than their white counterparts.

“Patterns of racially targeted marketing of unhealthy foods and beverages have not improved to any significant degree despite decades of public health criticism and calls for companies to change,” said Shiriki Kumanika, PhD, MPH, research professor at Drexel University Dornsife School of Public Health and Principal Investigator for OGF&B. “We believe that a positive approach that articulates the views of the black community on the benefits of healthy foods and connects good foods to black culture can spark change.”

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 path to health and black liberation. Today, for reasons ranging 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 that healthy food and beverage marketing can have on the health and well-being of the Black community through the eyes of Black youth who contributed directly to the project through the 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 is working with black influencers on TikTok and Instagram to help amplify the message. The campaign also calls on the National Restaurant Association, through a Change.org petition, to encourage its 380,000 member restaurants to apply the existing Kids LiveWell nutrition standards to menu items that are popular with black youth 18 and under instead of the current age 12 and are committed to promoting these healthier options. Through these efforts, OGF&B aims to amplify the voices of Black youth. and deal with a current problem.

“Black youth will be the voice of this movement, but we all have a role to play,” Kumanika said. “We hope parents, advocates, advertisers, restaurants, food and drink companies, celebrities and politicians will step up and join us in saying now is the time to promote better food and drink options in our communities. Our young people deserve it.”

FOR THE OPERATION GOOD FOOD AND BEVERAGES

Operation Good Food & Beverages was developed with youth leadership from HeartSmilesMD, an enrichment and leadership development program serving youth in Baltimore the most underserved communities and is a project launched by the Black Health Council, a research and action network dedicated to improving black health across the country. Support is provided by the Bloomberg American Health Initiative. Learn more at operationgoodfb.com and follow the campaign on TikTok and Instagram.

FOR THE BLOOMBERG AMERICAN HEALTH INITIATIVE

Through education, research and practice, Bloomberg’s American Health Initiative aims to impact five health challenges facing the nation: addiction and overdose, adolescent health, environmental challenges, obesity and the food system, and violence. One part of the initiative, the Bloomberg Scholars Program, offers full scholarships for MPH and DrPH degrees to individuals working on the front lines to improve health in the US. 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.

FOR EVOKE

Evoke provided several pro bono services for the OGF&B campaign, including creative, strategic and social media targeting along with media buying. Evoke is a leading global brand, experience and communication platform purpose-built to make health more human™. Organized by global practice areas and specialist agencies, Evoke uses data-driven insights, creativity and applied innovation to solve the most complex 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 and Drink

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