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Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Presenting Data in a Fresh Way

Thanksgiving Calorie Counter
A few weeks ago, everyone in the office watched a fascinating video about the greater role infographics, or data visualizations, are playing in how the media shares information with its audiences. Presenting data in an interesting and unexpected manner, instead of with a straightforward chart or graph, can go a long way in communicating your message. I like how a good infographic really draws a viewer in and can tell a comprehensive story with words, data and images without being too overwhelming or boring.

I’ve been keeping an eye out for these lately and came across this fun one from The Washington Post

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

~ Nicole

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

California's dubious ranking in a new report of taking care of children

Californians can not be proud of their ranking in a new study that measures caring for children with special health needs. We come in dead last or very close to it on a range of indicators, including whether children have adequate health insurance, receive basic preventive care, can get a referral without a problem, and receive medical care that is comprehensive, ongiong and family-oriented.

One in seven children in California have special health care needs. That is 1.4 million vulnerable children with chronic conditions ranging from mild, manageable asthma to complex conditions, such as heart disease and celebral palsy. Most of the children have multiple health conditions. One in four of them can't do what other healthy children can do, including going to school regularly.

Our state can -- and needs -- to do better.

Who says we don't need health care system reform?

The study, Children with Special Health Care Needs: A Profile of Key Issues in California was commissioned by the Lucile Packard Foundation for Children's Health.  Here is the link for more information,

~ Paula

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Team Building Important to Healthy Work Environment

I’m sure it’s evident that at Brown•Miller Communications we’re all pretty health conscious. And part of our healthy outlook includes maintaining a healthy work environment. In keeping with that philosophy, every year our office sets aside a work day for team building, a day we’ve dubbed the “BMC Play Day.” This annual event gives us all an opportunity to laugh and play together while we work on a project or share an adventure. In past years, the BMC team has kayaked on the Oakland Estuary, sailed the San Francisco Bay, gone horseback riding at Bodega Bay, milked a goat, participated in a cooking class at the now-defunct COPIA, raced one another around the track in a go kart and roamed the streets of San Francisco’s Mission District following directives from our Go Game coordinator. During the Go Game, we videotaped our group performing a creative dance routine, sat on rocks by the police station posing as the Thinker, created a living sculpture in shadow and tried to set the record for stuffing marshmallows in one’s mouth. This year we traipsed around Sonoma’s town square trying to solve a murder mystery.

Sound silly? Sure, some of our outings definitely have had their silly moments, but they’ve also been very rewarding in that they have given us all an opportunity to kick back and enjoy one another’s company, thereby allowing us to strengthen our relationships. After having had this day to laugh and play together, we return to the office reinvigorated and ready to get back to the work at hand.

If possible, I highly recommend that you take some time out from your busy work schedules to get to know your workmates better. It doesn’t have to be a full day away from the office. Get creative, and just have fun. It pays huge dividends in being able to maintain a healthy work environment.


Monday, November 8, 2010

More proof on how the fast-food chains aggressively target our children and shame on Fox

I'm getting pretty tired of hearing the whining from parents who criticized San Francisco for banning toys in unhealthy happy meals.

The legislation doesn't ban toys as Fox-unNews claimed in a recent segment. It simply states that toys need to be offered for healthier meals.

A new study today underscores the need for the legislation and should encourage other cities and counties to follow San Francisco and Santa Clara County's lead.

According to Yale’s Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity,children as young as two-years-old are seeing more fast-food ads than ever before, and that fast-food restaurants rarely offer parents healthy kids’ meal choices. Report findings show that fast-food marketers target children across a variety of media and in restaurants, and that restaurants provide largely unhealthy side dishes and drinks as the default options that come with kids’ meals. The new report is the most comprehensive study of fast-food nutrition and marketing ever undertaken.

The report, titled Fast Food F.A.C.T.S. (Food Advertising to Children and Teens Score), examined the marketing efforts of 12 of the nation’s largest fast-food chains, and analyzed the calories, fat, sugar and sodium in more than 3,000 kids’ meal combinations and 2,781 menu items. It also analyzed marketing practices of the 12 major chains. Some of the key findings include:

* The fast-food industry spent more than $4.2 billion dollars on marketing and advertising in 2009, focusing extensively on television, the Internet, social media sites and mobile applications.

* The average preschooler sees almost three ads per day for fast food; children ages 6-11 see three and a half; and teens ages 12-17 see almost five.

* Kids ages 6-11 see 264 child-targeted ads from McDonald’s, 125 from Burger King and 32 from Subway each year. In total, they see 368 McDonald’s ads, 185 Burger King ads and 127 Subway ads.

If fast-food companies want to be true partners with Michelle Obama's Let's Move campaign they should stop promoting junk food and liquid sugar to children and offer healthy options rather than high-calorie, high-fat, cheap foods and beverages that they do now.

For example, in 2009 (compared to 2007) preschoolers saw 21 percent more ads for McDonald’s, 9 percent more for Burger King, and 56 percent more for Subway. Children ages 6-11 saw 26 percent more ads for McDonald’s, 10 percent more for Burger King, and 59 percent more for Subway. These increases are especially notable for McDonald’s and Burger King, which have pledged to reduce unhealthy marketing to children.

The bombardment of unhealthy food and beverage advertising and marketing is even worse for Hispanic and African-American children.

~ Paula

Friday, November 5, 2010

Corn Syrup or Sugar? I Choose Neither

A recent study produced by Dr. Michael Goran of the USC Keck school of Medicine reveals that there may be higher levels of high fructose corn syrup in sodas than previously thought. The corn syrup industry has quickly gone into defense mode and refuted some of Goran's science. While Goran's evidence appears hard to argue with, it doesn’t change my distaste for soda, and I doubt it will change the average soda drinkers consumption. It doesn’t matter to me if soda is using corn syrup or cane sugar, it's BAD for you.

The minds that have to change are those of parents. As a kid, I certainly went through at least 3 or 4 sodas a day, because that is what was in the refrigerator. I also remember a handful of trips to the dentist’s office to get cavity’s filled. I have not had a cavity since I stopped drinking soda around 8 years ago. Coincidence? A few trips to the dentist office pales in comparison to diabetes and other health problems that can occur from such an unhealthy lifestyle. It is your job as a parent to fill the fridge with healthy beverages. Most responsible parents won’t smoke in front of their children. It’s time to not have sodas around them either.