Bourdain: Reason 9999 I love New York City

I can’t wait until I meet Anthony Bourdain, its going to be a hoot and we are just going to hit it off. Until then, I’ll post about Tony’s journey from the kitchen to social issues. One of my favorite shows ever is “Parts Unknown.” I was fairly easily able to find a transcript of one of the most interesting episodes that highlights life in Mexico and struggles faced there. I know this article doesn’t specifically address health. However, there is something to be learned about the ease in which he is able to jump from something that can be considered more trivial, or less serious, like street food, to deeply rooted societal social issues. Here is a Washington Post article he wrote on his episode on Iran and I really enjoyed his Beirut article. He is the master storyteller, and if he could ever incorporate or tackle health issues, it would be amazing.

The one thing that is definitely health related is the food he showcases. As I’ve learned in class, often immigrants from across the globe come with protective factors, or otherwise known as behaviors that promote health. Often the ways foods are prepared and ingredients used are all local, but more importantly, they are super healthy. Once different groups come here, they lose these traditions, and sometimes end up eating really unhealthy fast food, simply because that is what is around, cheap and available. Bourdain does show there are other ways to healthy eating, that help to decrease obesity and show alternatives to the unhealthy food preparation techniques commonly used here in the US.

Make breakfast a priority

I have been volunteering at a nearby charter school and love it. Its so interesting to learn about their wildy diverse and challenging circuluum and to get a break from school work to make others do school work. However, I still haven’t learned much about their school meals or nutrition. I asked some students during my last visit  what they had for lunch and they reported options were pizza and some sort of veggie tofu option, so it looks like the school is on the right track.  Alas, the tofu w/ veg option was accompanied with a look of disgust.

I saw this interesting article on providing school breakfast to children. The most important take away I think is that no breakfast is always the worst option and promotes obesity. This seems to be proven again and again in study after study.

Everyone should always make room for breakfast. Here is a quick review of why breakfast is crucial and some tips on making it a part of your routine from the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

Colum McCan ALWAYS

One of my favorite modern writers is Colum McCan and I was able to see him a few weeks ago at NY presbyterian. He is hyper dope and I recommend to check out his books. My favorite is “Let the Great World Spin.” Seeing him in-person was surreal because a few years ago I was reading his book and googling him from afar, trying to envision how he was able to create these intricate and sensitive stories. His books often feature characters from various ages, background and cultures. I can tell you he was exactly how I envisioned him.

Since it was hosted at NY Presbyterian by the Columbia Narrative Medicine program it had a health spin. He explained that listening to patients is like storytelling. Although the patient may come in for cut on her arm, the factors may actually be the bills she can’t pay. I have never heard an author be so tuned-in to social determinants of health and its probably why he is such an excellent writer.  He stated to properly heal is beyond “recognizing the disease.” He shared in his own work, he had to learn about the health conditions to truly write so as to bring a character to life.

Additionally, he took at moment to highlight his nonprofit Narrative Four. There is a great video from the author explaining the storytelling mission of the organization.  You can find the video here Narrative Four Video.

 

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Veggies shaken not stirred

Since I had three people ask me about my smoothie last Tuesday I figured I would post about it. I get the best smoothies from Nussbaum and Wu and they are super delish. I ask for kale, spinach, a whole banana, 4 pieces of mango, plain yogurt and blueberries. If I’m ever stressed or feel like snacking, I always pop in to get a smoothie. Its funny because when you are stressed your body craves unhealthy snacks, but what you actually need at that moment is something hyper healthful. I’ve read countless articles about nutrition, but here are a few of my favorite topics. Here are two great articles linking nutrition to mental health Huffington Post and Washington Post. Nutrition is probably the most important thing you can monitor every day and that can dictate much of your health status.

 

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Just some good old advertising

Since I’ve been posting a fair amount about public health campaigns, I figured I would see if there were any commercial campaigns that were targeting healthy behaviors, but through a marketers eyes. Here are some other campaigns that I thought had a creative twist from  Trendhunter.

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I also enjoyed this World Health Day campaign. This is classified as a public health campaign, since the desired end result is improved health outcomes and behavior change

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“Selling” Health

When I was home for spring break getting my hair cut and I saw some attention getting packaging that caught my eye.

These were done by R and Co  and its obvious that they are soaked in customer insights.  In reality what does a well done manicure or a leather jacket have to do with hair spray? Absolutely nothing. And it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that I knew I liked it and it stood out from the other products. This made me wonder if any health products were trying out similar tactics.

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When I looked to see if there similar techniques in packaging. I quickly was able to find a fair around. Below are some examples of a creative food, acne medicine and meal packaging.

 

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Bored Panda – Fit Buns
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Bored Panda – Clearasil Acne txt

 

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Emotive Food packaging article

This is my favorite packing item. As soon as I saw it I could imagine myself grocery shopping in NYC and seeing this, feeling home sick, buying it and sending a pic to my mom. I love that you can see the actual products and the drawings are creative without being too much. Its limit on colors, and white packaging help create a simple, crisp look that seem to be a good choice and properly reflect the values of a produce company.

 

NYC’s synthetic MJ public health problem

In a class last semester, we did an observational assignment on the subway to report on rider behaviors. We then used this information to make a recommendation to a fictional client. The subway assignment showed this is a concrete way to reach people. Since people are literally stuffed to the brim on the train, people are fairly often looking around.  In our assignment we were able to indemnify a particularly distinct segment. We proposed to tart middle school age children for either healthy eating or possibly anti bullying campaign. We noticed around 3 they often travel together, engaged in conversation with peers and often still have high energy compared to the other riders.

 

Below is a subway public advertisement that caught my eye and I thought would potentially be targeted for high school students. Most people, including myself before reading this, don’t know why synthetic marijuana is so dangerous. Here is a Forbes article explaining how it is very different than regular marijuana. I was surprised to see public health officials fear tactics, which tend to have mixed results in effectiveness, but this article states there reports of the average ages of users is 26. It goes on to explain why De Blasio has recently banned these products. The article states users assume its safe and similar enough to natural marijuana, but there have sharp spike in ER visits and 15 deaths in the first half of 2015. The severity and misconception of the drug may warrant a harsher, scare tactic if the campaign is trying to get the word out ASAP. It definately got my attention right away.

 

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Weightymatters matters

I wanted to do an individual post about the Weigthymatters blog. Here Professor and MD, Yoni Freedhoff, covers behavior change,  policies and the commercial food industry.

Simply by checking out his site I was able to find other well maintained blogs.

  • Science Based Medicine serves a more of a watch dog on health and medical related news and events.
  • Fooducate also has an excellent blog that is updated daily. It even goes a step further to provide a diet tracking tool, an internal rating system for various foods and healthy eating suggestions.

Parents can sneak in good eating habits

Another thing that surprised me about NYC was the number of young children and infants floating around the UWS. With the busy and hectic lives of NYC parents, I think that teaching strong eating behaviors is necessary. Living in a city that runs on convenience and has unhealthy food options everywhere,  children need to learn how to make the right choices. This is a great NPR article on creating consistency in a young child’s diet.

A second quick and easy read can be found on Wiki. This article highlights steps parents can take with children who are a bit older.

Time and Weightymatters get it right

Readers should always be skeptical of health studies. It seems like every time I open any news outlet there there is a new finding. Like high fat is good for you, coffee is bad for you.  One of my professors has said when reading about data findings, always see who is publishing or funding the study and what the motivation may be behind the findings. In this post I wanted to highlight two studies that are on opposite sides of the spectrum.

Time does an excellent job of reporting on and discussing a recent study on Diet Coke. Not only do they say the number of people and the ages, they also include excellent background information. They include multiple studies to reinforce the first study. Additionally, they give tips on how to cut back on soda, and help provide context. They lists the severe consequences to weight gain that it is beyond just cosmetic reasons. Also, it includes biologically what happens to to body after ingesting soda and the complicated relationship you can have with these “fake”healthy options.

I think the worst part is that this is particularly harmful to those over 60, who are not only likely to be dealing with age related alignments, a decreasing metabolism, leaving them even more vulnerable. Particularly that people may be trying to make better decisions with low calorie options, but in the long run setting themselves up for failure.

In contrast, here is another beverage study about Welch’s grapefruit juice in a blog post by Weighty Matters. The sample size is 25, of 19 are mothers who work. This sample size is not only too small but they are most likely using a demographic that they are attempting to market. My professor says for market research a study should be at least 100, at the minimum. Here are some guidelines I found on Health study sample sizes. Additionally the Calorie Control Council has an incredibly deceiving name. It sounds like its a health or diet task force, but no, it is a lobby for low calorie drinks.

The author does an excellent critique of the study which of 25 participants who begin to drink grape juice for 12 months. From this limited sample, they made a huge leap stating that he took verbatim from a press release, “New research by the University of Leeds in the UK suggests that drinking Concord grape juice daily can benefit certain aspects of memory and everyday tasks in people with stressful lifestyles – specifically working mothers.”

The company closes out by including Welch’s history and that it has been around for 150 years. Not only is this a plug, but its trying to establish credibility from the fact its been around for a while. None of this is relevant to the presented information. The upside is if companies do present information like this, its easier to spot illegitimate studies.

There is nothing wrong with drinking Diet Coke or Welch’s but the discussion needs to be re-framed, and these drinks should be considered a treat, or used for special occasions. People should not be lead to believe if they began to drink diet coke, or grape juice that they are it is in some way, “ beneficial” as this article states the company claims. I do believe there should be room for these products on the counter, however, there should be better marketing guidelines on how products are marketed, especially when produced in tandem with health studies.