Food countermarketing describes activities that seek to reduce the demand for unhealthy products by exposing corporate profit motives and undermining the marketing practices of sugary beverage, fast food, and other food companies. In the past countermarketing has played a key role in reducing tobacco use among young people. Last fall the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute brought together organizations and individuals from around New York City with interest in creating or expanding youth food countermarketing efforts.
On October 27, 2016, CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute held its first Youth Countermarketing Convening which brought together organizations, groups, and individuals across NYC that lead youth food justice programs and/or that are interested in creating or expanding youth food countermarketing work. Organizations represented at the meeting include: Children’s Aid Society, FoodCorps, Community Food Advocates, GrowNYC, City Harvest, Bronx Health Reach, New Settlement, CUNY Graduate School of Public Health and Health Policy, and the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.
Nicholas Freudenberg, Chris Palmedo, Eleni Murphy and Sarah Garza for the CUNY Urban Food Policy Institute
In the next decade, experts predict that diet-related diseases may overtake tobacco as the leading cause of premature death and preventable illness in New York City and around the world. Many factors have contributed to the rise of obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular disease and other diet-related conditions. One reason is relentless marketing of unhealthy food by food and beverage companies. Each year, U.S. food companies spend more than $2 billion targeting children with ads, mostly for highly processed foods high in sugar, salt and unhealthy fats, the products most associated with diet-related diseases. As advocates explore solutions to this impending public health crisis, one strategy that shows promise is countermarketing.