Testing countermarketing messages to reduce soda consumption in the Bronx

Oct. 4, 2022
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Soda and other ultra-processed foods are important contributors to disease and health disparities in the United States. Children in the Bronx are particularly inundated with predatory food and beverage marketing, which contributes to disproportionate levels of diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis and heart disease. Because of this, health policy experts recommend reducing the marketing of sugar-sweetened beverages to this population and to all lower income communities.

In a new study in Social Marketing Quarterly, CUNY SPH researchers working alongside Bronx Health REACH with support from the Creating Healthy Schools and Communities initiative of the New York State Department of Health explored communication strategies to help young people resist soda marketing. 

Led by clinical professor Chris Palmedo, the team conducted focus group interviews with youth participating in afterschool programs throughout the Bronx. Incorporating a comprehensive social marketing approach, the researchers asked the students for their views on messages designed to help them avoid sweet drinks in favor of water.  

“These kids wanted to learn more about the health impacts of soda,” Palmedo said. “Those were the messages they really wanted to hear. As a society, we can probably do better at that.”

Palmedo, P. C., Flores, S., Castillo, K., Byrne-Zaaloff, M., & Moltzen, K. (2022). Exploring Countermarketing Messages to Reduce Youth Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption in The Bronx, NY. Social Marketing Quarterly, 15245004221126580.