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PHI in the News

Is the Soda Tax on Your Ballot Actually a Grocery Tax?

October 14, 2016 | KQED

By charging distributors 1 cent per ounce of sugar-sweetened drinks they bring into a city, three Bay Area ballot measures aim to raise significant funds—over $7.5 million in San Francisco, $6 million in Oakland and $220,000 in Albany per year—for health and education programs to reduce the consumption of sugary drinks.

This KQED article cites preliminary findings of a PHI study, which looked at retail scanner data of millions of transactions in Berkeley and found the cost of the tax was predominantly passed on to the price of sodas and other sugar-sweetened beverages. “We also did not see a rise in the average grocery bill,” said Lynn Silver, one of the researchers with the Public Health Institute.  more

Big Soda’s Tax Claim Falls Flat with Grocers

October 11, 2016 | San Francisco Chronicle

In the Bay Area, the beverage industry has already spent about $14 million to defeat three controversial soda tax measures on ballots this November. Almost all of their ads use the phrase "don’t tax our groceries."

This San Francisco Chronicle article cites a study by PHI's Lynn Silver that there is little evidence to support the industry's claim that grocery costs will go higher. In fact, the study found people are buying fewer sugary drinks and more untaxed drinks, like bottled water, making sales totals for drinks about stable. Overall grocery bills have stayed the same.  more

How Senate Retirements Could Affect Science

September 30, 2016 | Scientific American

Nora Connors, PHI's deputy director of public policy, talks about how an exodus of science advocates could impact the next Congress, in Scientific American.  more

Tracking asthma threats in the Imperial Valley's hazy air

September 29, 2016 | The Desert Sun

Growing up in the Imperial Valley, 18-year-old Jessica Herrera has learned that her asthma can appear suddenly and become overpowering, taking away her ability to breathe. The pollution comes from a mix of sources: farmers burning the post-harvest stubble on their fields, smog drifting across the border from Mexicali, lines of cars and trucks belching exhaust and windblown dust wafting from farms, the desert and the shores of the Salton Sea.

PHI’s California Environmental Health Tracking Program is installing a network of 40 air monitoring devices in the region between the U.S.-Mexico border and the Salton Sea and is about to begin churning out a wealth of real-time data. This new tool will help alert Herrera and the others who suffer from asthma in the Imperial Valley to dangerous levels of air pollution.  more

Kevin Barnett Talks to The Commonwealth Fund

September 28, 2016

Kevin Barnett, Dr.P.H., M.C.P., a senior investigator with the Public Health Institute, has spent the last two decades researching the ways nonprofit hospitals meet their charitable obligations. Kevin spoke with& Transforming Care, a publication from The Commonwealth Fund, on how community prevention and health disparity issues could be better incorporated into the work of hospitals.



Youth Advocates Offer Tools for Addressing Childhood Trauma

September 13, 2016 | Sarah Reith | Willits News

On Tuesday, September 6, Aurelie Clivas and Carter Grissom of the Mendocino County Youth Project spoke about the effects of trauma on the developing brains of young people. Their talk focused on how traumatic experiences in childhood often lead to negative health outcomes in adulthood. Data from an assessment tool called the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) test has found correlation between childhood trauma and increased frequency in suicide, hepatitis and other sexually transmitted diseases. This Willits News article cites a survey conducted in Mendocino County by PHI surveying the population using the ACE tool.  more

Soda Companies Have a New Language Trick to Keep You Hooked on Sugar

September 02, 2016 | Kiera Butler | Mother Jones

In Oakland, California, soda companies are railing against the passage of a new tax on sugary beverages that would protect the health of vulnerable populations. The industry has created a new phrase—"grocery tax"—to try to sway voter against approving the soda tax that would help fund free preschool. The Mother Jones article cites a study by PHI's Lynn Silver, Suzanne Ryan-Ibarra, and Marta Induni that showed a simliar tax passed in Berkeley, CA, in 2014 is working as intended.  more

Cities Hire Food Systems Experts To Address Obesity, Food Access

August 22, 2016 | Rachel Cernansky | Civil Eats

At least 22 cities, from Baltimore to Denver, have created leadership roles for change-makers focused on food. Until recently, the many disparate elements of the food system have often been viewed in isolation. Cities are recognizing the chronic health and economic challenges that persist in communities with little access to healthy food, and the fact that local government can play a role in improving the food environment. PHI's Roots of Change president Michael Dimock underscores the importance of having a desiginated person within government to coordinate food policy.  more

Coke Is Using the Rio Olympics to Target Latinos — And It's a Huge Problem

August 15, 2016 | Alex Orlov | Food.Mic

Food advertisers are thirsty for attention during the Olympic Games, and a recent interview with a Coca-Cola spokesperson reveals that the brand is targeting Hispanics. Junk food and drink marketers couch multicultural marketing in positivity — but such targeted marketing isn't flattery, it's exploitation. This Food.Mic blog cites PHI's Berkeley Media Studies Group's study showing that ads that tap into what kids and teens care about have the potential to create lifelong brand loyalty.

Telehealth Terminology: ‘Store-and-Forward’ Has its Fans - And Critics

July 21, 2016 | Eric Wicklund | mHealthIntelligence

In Arkansas, questions about asynchronous telemedicine, or "store and forward" technology, is holding up passage of new telehealth guidelines in the state. This mHealthIntelligence article examining the arguments for and against this technology—which gives clinicians time to review data before beginning a session with a patient or when live video or in-person contact is not possible or necessary—cites PHI's Center for Connected Health Policy's definition and explanation of "store and forward."  more

A Baseball Stadium Farmers’ Market is a Hit in Fresno

July 13, 2016 | Patricia Leigh Brown | Civil Eats

stadium Farmers market

At the Fresno Grizzlies’ Chukchansi baseball park in California's Central Valley, cotton candy and other junk food that define America’s pastime have been joined by a farmers’ market set up at Friday home games. This Civil Eats article about food marketing at sporting events and the changing stadium fare nationwide quotes Genoveva Islas, director of PHI's Cultiva La Salud, who points out that Fresno residents have long experienced poor nutrition and physical activity.  more

Aric Crabb - Bay Area News Group

Oakland rejects coal terminal, sets example on climate change

July 11, 2016 | Linda Rudolph and Keanan McGonigle | Sacramento Bee

In this Sacramento Bee op-ed, Linda Rudolph and Keanan McGonigle from PHI's Center for Climate Change and Health praised the Oakland City Council's decision to ban the transport and storage of coal through a new bulk export terminal in West Oakland: "As Oakland has demonstrated, it’s time to take responsibility for the climate impacts of U.S. fossil-fuel exports."  more

Farmers' market program to help low-income California families gets new life

June 29, 2016 | Annie Sciacca | San Jose Mercury News

California Gov. Jerry Brown has approved a state budget that includes $5 million for the California Nutrition Incentives Act, which sets up a program to discount fresh produce at farmers' markets for low-income shoppers. PHI's Roots of Change established the largest operator of the program, Market Match, several years ago and worked this year to secure this funding.  more

Chris Jordan-Bloch / Earthjustice

Oakland council bans coal

June 28, 2016 | Erin Baldassari | East Bay Times

After a four-hour meeting on June 27, the Oakland City Council voted unanimously to ban the handling and storage of coal in the city, including through a planned bulk export terminal in West Oakland. PHI's Dr. Linda Rudolph, director of the Center for Climate Change and Health, spoke at the meeting in favor of the ban. "Climate change is the defining public health challenge of the century," said Rudolph.  more


Study Backs Oakland’s Case for Blocking Coal Terminal

June 24, 2016 | Dan Brekke | KQED

This KQED article on the Oakland City Council's consideration of shipping coal through a new port complex in development in West Oakland cites a recent report finding that coal dust from the millions of tons of the fossil fuel that would likely move through the terminal each year would worsen the already poor air quality in West Oakland and other nearby communities. PHI's Linda Rudolph and Paul English contributed to the report.  more

Why doctors are struggling to treat the gun violence epidemic

June 24, 2016 | Lindsey J. Smith | The Verge

PHI's calls to recognize gun violence as a public health crisis that requires a prevention-based approach are highlighted in this article in The Verge about medical and public health organizations' efforts to name gun violence for what it is: a leading cause of premature death in the United States.  more

CalFresh now accepted at Auburn farmers market

June 20, 2016 | Michael Mott | Auburn Journal

PHI's Center for Wellness and Nutrition has partnered with Placer County Health and Human Services in northern California on a Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program-Education (SNAP-Ed) Get Fresh! grant award, which will implement Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) systems at two unserved farmers’ markets in the county, among other activities. This article in the Auburn Journal highlights the program's work to enable low-income families to use their Calfresh benefits on fresh fruits and vegetables at the DeWitt Center Placer Grown Farmers’ Market.  more

Photo: David Swanson

Health experts: Philly soda tax could start national movement

June 16, 2016 | Don Sapatkin | Philadelphia Inquirer

"This is an idea whose time has come," PHI Senior Advisor for Chronic Disease and Obesity Lynn Silver told the Philadelphia Inquirer in response to that city's passage of a tax on sugary beverages this week. Philadelphia joined Berkeley, California, the only other city in the country to levy an excise tax on distributors of sugar-sweetened beverages. Philadelphia included artificially sweetened beverages in its tax, as well.

Silver said she believes taxing sugary beverages will quickly win public acceptance across the country, comparing it to the introduction of smoke-free air regulations.  more

Creating Our To-Do List: Looking Forward at the United State of Women

June 14, 2016 | Denise Dunning | Ms. Magazine


Denise Dunning, founder and head of PHI's Rise Up—which advances health, education and equity for girls, youth and women everywhere—penned this piece in Ms. Magazine after attending the United State of Women summit at the White House this week. The United State of Women is the first Summit of its kind, bringing together thousands of leaders working to improve the lives of women and girls in the US and around the world.

"Here in the US and on a global scale, ensuring the health of women and girls is still a major challenge," says Dunning.  more

The One Reason Why Beyonce Needs to Stop Endorsing Pepsi

June 07, 2016 | Alex Orlov | Mic

A majority of music celebrities featured in food advertisements are promoting junk food, according to a new study published this month. Laura Nixon, media researcher with PHI's Berkeley Media Studies Group, is interviewed in this Mic article discussing the impact of celebrity endorsements to market unhealthy foods, particularly to children. 

"Endorsements allow food companies to connect their products with some of kids' biggest heroes in music and sports, building brand loyalty for years to come," said Nixon.  more

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