This spring the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute led a Youth Sugar Sweetened Beverage Countermarketing project, working with students from A. Philip Randolph High School to develop countermarketing images against unhealthy, sugar-sweetened beverages. Countermarketing uses health communications strategies to reduce the demand for unhealthy products by exposing the motives of their producers.
Through these images the students take a stand against beverage companies marketing to them and their community, and also educate their communities and peers about the health impacts of sugar sweetened beverages and their aggressive marketing to vulnerable populations and minorities. Through this project students learned about targeted marketing, the health impacts of sugary drink consumption, and how countermarketing can be used as a tool against predatory marketing. Additionally, the students were also trained on how to use Adobe Photoshop and InDesign to create their images by teaching artists from Creative Art Works.
To engage East Harlem community residents, student posters were displayed at Uptown Grand Central (125th Street & Park Avenue in East Harlem) on June 28, 2017 during a Fresh Food Box Distribution. According to the NYC Department of Health, East Harlem adults are more likely to consume sugary drinks than residents of Manhattan as a whole. Obesity and diabetes are associated with frequent consumption of sugary drinks, and East Harlem adults experience rates of obesity and diabetes more than residents of New York City as a whole.
Our hope is that the images will make community residents think twice before they consume sugary beverages, and that this project provides momentum for other countermarketing initiatives that engage youth. Community organizations and groups interested in displaying the images or learning more about the project can contact Charita Johnson at email@example.com.
Thanks to the Uptown Grand Central and GrowNYC for sharing space to display the images, and to project partners A. Philip Randolph High School, Creative Art Works, and the Partnership for a Healthier Manhattan.