Sunday, February 22, 2009

Food Politics, Social Marketing, the Art of Persuasion and People's Values

Food politics. Ever heard of it? Well this video should give you a good idea: The Food Lobby Goes to School.

Here's a recent NY Times story by Alice Waters.
And if that's not enough, read Food Politics by Marion Nestle. And Food Marketing to Children and Youth by the Institute of Medicine.

This is why we need to do something! Children today are expected to be the first generation to die at a younger age than their parents, and obese teenagers are as likely to die prematurely as smokers. THIS IS NOT OKAY. And it seems like conventional public health interventions aren't working. So why don't we give the industry a taste of their own medicine, by using social marketing? Basically, social marketing is taking the strategies of the corporate industry - the one that has successfully brainwashed society into thinking fast food is "in" and that has even brainwashed people in developing countries into seeing fast food as a sign of prosperity (more on that later) - and using their marketing strategies to positively influence public health. It's all about the art of persuasion and knowing how to get to people's core value systems. If you know what people value, you can get them to do what you want. This is particularly helpful if the thing you want them to do is a habit which is good for them, such as successfully getting a village in Ghana to wash their hands with soap with the "Global Public-Private Partnership for Handwashing With Soap." So as you can see, the art of persuasion and social marketing can be adapted for a variety of public health interventions - understanding people and their value systems doesn't always have to be used for worsening society :)

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