AJPH October 2014 highlights

Date: Oct 16 2014

AJPH research: Promoting food on Facebook, trauma from ‘stop and frisk,’ soda and cell aging

In this month’s release, find studies about social media’s impact on marketing nutrition-poor foods to youth; ‘stop and frisk’ policing impacts on mental health; and connections between soda consumption and cellular aging.

EMBARGOED UNTIL October 16, 2014, 4 p.m. EDT

Contact: For copies of articles or full table of contents of this month’s released studies, call Kimberly Short at 202-777-2511, or email her.

Papers from this month’s release include those featured in the December 2014 issue of the American Journal of Public Health, themed, “Technological Innovations in Public Health.” Highlights include:

  1. Facebook may contribute to promoting unhealthy food to teens and young adults
  2. ‘Stop and frisk’ policing associated with trauma and anxiety among young urban men
  3. Cellular aging could be impacted by sugar-sweetened soda intake

Facebook may contribute to promoting unhealthy food to teens and young adults
Social media sites like Facebook can contribute to marketing unhealthy foods to young people, according to new research from the American Journal of Public Health.

Researchers investigated the extent to which energy dense, nutrient-poor foods are promoted and marketed using social media tools and strategies. The Australian-based study used a sample of top-ranked Facebook pages of food manufacturers, food brands, retailers and restaurants. The resulting analysis reviewed 27 food and beverage brand Facebook pages on the basis of their marketing techniques, follower engagement and marketing reach of messages posted by the pages.

Results from the study find a high level of engagement between energy-dense, nutrition-poor food companies and adolescents and young adults on Facebook. In addition, the study’s analysis shows a prevalence of highly engaged users sharing the content onward within their personal social networks. Users require little incentive to engage with the products. Results further showed that competitions, giveaways and aligning with positive events were found to be effective means of engagement between users and the food companies.

“In terms of health policy, much of the current work to limit exposure to [energy-dense, nutrition-poor food] advertising is focused on restricting advertisements during children’s television programs and viewing hours. Our study shows that this narrow focus is likely to miss large amounts of online advertising aimed at adolescents,” the researchers suggest.

[“Digital Junk: Food and beverage marketing on Facebook.” Contact: Becky Freeman, PhD, School of Public Health, Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia].

‘Stop and frisk’ policing associated with trauma and anxiety among young urban men
New research from the American Journal of Public Health finds that young urban men who experience invasive proactive policing are likely to experience more trauma or anxiety symptoms.

Researchers surveyed more than 1,200 New York City young men age 18 to 26, between September 2012 and March 2013. The sample was based on the local population and selected to include both high- stop and low-stop areas of the city, and men with and without personal experience with the police. Participants were asked about whether or not they had been stopped by the police, the frequency of the occurrences and details about the encounters, including whether physical force or threats took place. Participants also responded to questions on mental health assessing symptoms of trauma including a measure of post traumatic stress disorder and anxiety levels.

Findings from the study indicate that individuals who experienced more proactive policing practices, particularly those who experienced invasive policing, such as being thrown to the ground or slammed against walls, were likely to report more trauma or anxiety symptoms. This relationship was particularly pronounced for respondents reporting the most intrusive experiences.

“This raises concerns that the aggressive nature of proactive policing may have implications not only for police-community relations but also for local public health,” the study explains.

“Notwithstanding the dearth of evidence to justify a crime-control claim, and the constitutional concerns these arguments raise, our findings suggest that any benefits achieved by aggressive proactive policing tactics may be offset by serious costs to individual and community health,” the researchers charge.

[“Aggressive policing and the mental health of young urban men.” Contact: Amanda Geller, PhD, NYU Department of Sociology, New York, New York].

Cellular aging could be impacted by sugar-sweetened soda intake
Consuming sugar-sweetened sodas is associated with additional cellular aging, according to new research from the American Journal of Public Health. Sugar-sweetened soda consumption could impact leukocyte telomere length in a magnitude comparable to smoking. Shorter telomeres have been associated with risk of chronic diseases like cardiovascular disease and diabetes.

The study analyzed the potential impact of consuming sugar-sweetened sodas, non-carbonated sugary beverages, diet sodas and 100 percent fruit juice on leukocyte telomere length. Researchers used data from the 1999-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys, which included collection of 24-hour dietary recalls and DNA specimens for more than 5,000 participants between the ages of 20 and 65. Researchers estimated usual intakes of various beverages and compared it alongside telomere length measured from the DNA specimens.

Results from the study indicate an association between telomere length and consumption of sugar-sweetened sodas. According to the findings, 20-ounce serving of sugar-sweetened soda, a typical serving size today, could result in 4.6 years of cellular aging.  This magnitude of cellular aging is comparable to the beneficial aging effects of moderate or vigorous levels of physical activity, which would lengthen telomeres, and the negative aging effects of smoking which would shorten them, as shown in other published studies. In this study, more than 20 percent of study participants reported dietary intake of 20 ounces of soda per day, underscoring how common soda-related telomere shortening may be.

“It is critical to understand both dietary factors that may shorten telomeres, as well as dietary factors that may lengthen telomeres.  Here it appeared that the only beverage that had a measurable negative association with telomeres was sugared soda. This relationship was robust, across age, sex, race, and economic levels.” Cindy Leung, ScD, the lead author explains.

“We already know too well that soda consumption contributes to obesity.  This study reveals a new link, suggesting soda may also lead to shortened immune cell telomere length, independent of levels of obesity.  Shortened telomere length is a risk factor for earlier onset of a vast array of diseases of aging” said Elissa Epel, PHD the senior author.

[Soda and cell aging: Associations between sugar-sweetened beverage consumption and leukocyte telomere length in healthy adults from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys.” Contact: Cindy Leung and Elissa Epel, School of Medicine, University of California, San Francisco, California].

 Find a full list of research papers to be published online on Oct. 16, 2014, at 4 p.m. EDT below:

  • Digital Junk: Food and beverage marketing on Facebook 
  • The Texas Children's Hospital Immunization Forecaster: Conceptualization To Implementation
  • Network social capital reduces the chances of smoking relapse: A two-year follow-up study of urban-dwelling adults 
  • Classifying local health departments based on the constellation of services they provide 
  • Sexual Minority Women and Depressive Symptoms Throughout Adulthood
  • Hidden in plain sight: a crowd-sourced public art contest to make automated external defibrillators more visible 
  • Fully Integrated e-Services for prevention, diagnosis and treatment of STIs: Results of a four county study in California 
  • Aggressive Policing and the Mental Health of Young Urban Men 
  • The mental health of prisoners: Identifying barriers to mental health treatment and medication continuity 
  • Ethnic density and depressive symptoms among African Americans: Threshold and differential effects across social and demographic subgroups
  • Community Violence Perpetration and Victimization among Adults with Mental Illness 
  • The Association between Non-Specific Severe Psychological Distress as an Indicator of Serious Mental Illness and Increasing Levels of Medical Multimorbidity
  • Mental Health Treatment Patterns among Adults with Recent Suicide Attempts in the United States 
  • Medical Marijuana Laws and Suicides 
  • The Impact of Physical Activity on Psychological Distress: A Prospective Analysis on an Australian National Sample 
  • A Multisite Study of the Prevalence of HIV using Rapid Testing in Mental Health Settings 
  • Efficacy of a Process Improvement Intervention on Delivery of HIV Services: A Multi-Site Trail
  • Determinants of Receipt of Recommended Preventive Services: Implications for the Affordable Care Act 
  • Use of Preventive Dental Care by Medicaid-enrolled, School-age US Children in Immigrant and Non-immigrant Families: Pennsylvania Trends from 2005 through 2010 
  • Socioeconomic status, race, and mortality: a prospective cohort study 
  • Have racial and ethnic disparities in asthma prevalence in the US increased over time? Time trends from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) Study (1999-2011) 
  • Predicted long-term cardiovascular risk among young adults in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health 
  • Neighborhood Disadvantage is Associated with Hypertension Prevalence and Control in Older Adults: Results from the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) Study of Aging 
  • Effects of Particulate Matter and Dietary Antioxidant Intake on Blood Pressure 
  • Sodium Intake in a Cross-Sectional, Representative Sample of New York City Adults 
  • Reducing Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Consumption by Providing Caloric Information: How Do Black Adolescents Alter Their Purchases and Are the Effects Persistent? 
  • Soda and Cell Aging: Associations between Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Consumption and Leukocyte Telomere Length in Healthy Adults from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys 
  • Reducing added sugars in the food supply through a cap-and-trade approach 
  • Social Network Effects of Non-Lifesaving, Early-Stage Breast Cancer Detection on Mammography Rates 
  • Knowledge and Screening of Head and Neck Cancer Among American Indians in South Dakota
  • Risk of cigarette smoking initiation during adolescence among US-born and US immigrant Hispanics/Latinos: Results from the Hispanic Community Health Study / Study of Latinos 
  • The Association between Social Stressors and Home Smoking Rules and among Women with Infants in the United States. 
  • Work Organization and Health among Immigrant Women: Latina Manual Workers in North Carolina
  • Early Responses to San Francisco's Paid Sick Leave Policy 

The articles above will be published online Oct. 16, 2014, at 4 p.m. (ET) by the American Journal of Public Health under “First Look.” “First Look” articles have undergone peer review, copyediting and approval by authors but have not yet been printed to paper or posted online by issue. The American Journal of Public Health is published by the American Public Health Association, www.apha.org, and is available at www.ajph.org.

Complimentary online access to the Journal is available to credentialed members of the media. Address inquiries to Kimberly Short at APHA, 202-777-2511, or email her. A single print issue of the Journal is available for $35 from the Journal’s Subscriptions department. If you are not a member of the press, a member of APHA or a subscriber, online single issue access is $30 and online single article access is $22 at www.ajph.org or for direct customer service, call 202-777-2516, or email.

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Supported by the Aetna Foundation, a national foundation based in Hartford, Connecticut, that supports projects to promote wellness, health, and access to high-quality health care for everyone. The views presented here are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Aetna Foundation, its directors, officers, or staff.

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The American Journal of Public Health is the monthly journal of the American Public Health Association. APHA champions the health of all people and all communities by strengthening the profession of public health, sharing the latest research and information, promoting best practices and advocating for public health issues and policies grounded in research. More information is available at www.apha.org.