Following widely criticized coverage from The New York Times on SNAP recipients' soda purchases, BMSG Senior Media Researcher Pamela Mejia points to a missing piece of the conversation: the food and beverage industry's aggressive marketing of sugary drinks and other unhealthy products to low-income communities.
One of the fronts where the soda war is being fought is Oakland, where companies have already spent $747,268 to oppose measure HH, a penny-per-ounce soda excise tax that will fund health education programs. BMSG's Laura Nixon notes that the soda industry is also creating misleading advertisements and explains that Big Soda tailors its strategy and counter-arguments to each community that proposes a tax.
BMSG Director Lori Dorfman expands the conversation on gun violence in this letter to the editor for the San Francisco Chronicle. She writes, "Regarding 'Funding for gun research' (Editorial, Sept. 3): California has done what Congress is afraid to do: study gun violence. So simple, right? But in your editorial about this terrific news, why did you exclude suicides when you recounted the toll from gun violence? Most gun deaths in the U.S. are from suicides. With Dr. Garen Wintemute leading our new UC Firearm Violence Research Center, facts like that — and what we can do about them — can finally get the attention they deserve."
Mic.com's Alex Orlov uses Olympian Simone Biles' Hershey's commercial to shed light on food companies' unfortunate practice of using star athletes to promote bad nutrition. These endorsements are especially problematic for young children, who develop, as BMSG Media Researcher Laura Nixon explains, positive associations with the brand. The ad, Orlov concludes, "definitely doesn't stick the landing when it comes to helping America stay healthy."
Celebrity spokespeople are attractive to food and beverage companies because they help draw young consumers. As BMSG's Andrew Cheyne explained to TIME in 2013, "We can't expect kids to turn off that admiration [for their favorite celebrties] when the same person is selling sugar."