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California airs first medical marijuana ad in U.S.

A Fox TV station in Sacramento, Cal. aired the first medical marijuana commercial in the country last month. The commercial features people who have used medical marijuana telling their stories.

Lanette Davies, owner and founder of the Canna Care dispensary, the organization behind the commercials, has a daughter who used marijuana for medical purposes after experiencing a serious and painful illness. Her daughter is the first person to appear in the commercial, according to a CNN news story.

In November, California voters will have the opportunity to vote on whether marijuana should be legalized in Prop 19. In the news story, Davies said she is not promoting the legalization of marijuana but is trying to help inform people about what users of medical marijuana go though and wants to let people know that Canna Care is there to help.

What do you think of the idea of advertising medical marijuana? One news story equates it to advertising products like Excedrin. What do you think of the commercial?

What’s in a name? That which we call…high-fructose corn syrup?

corn fieldHigh-fructose corn syrup has been the victim of many criticisms in recent years. Health professionals have questioned its health effects. Consumers have struggled between nutrition recommendations and the late night snacks that are often laden with it. And many noteworthy companies have stopped using it in their products. In response, the Corn Refiners Association has decided to fight back. Tara Parker Pope at New York Times reports that,

 “The Corn Refiners Association, which represents firms that make the syrup, has been trying to improve the image of the much maligned sweetener with ad campaigns promoting it as a natural ingredient made from corn. Now, the group has petitioned the United States Food and Drug Administration to start calling the ingredient “corn sugar,” arguing that a name change is the only way to clear up consumer confusion about the product.”

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Introducing a Men’s Health-branded active video game

Adult playing an active video game.

Adult playing an active video game. Photo courtesy of yXeLLe ~@rtBrut~'s on Flickr; used by Creative Commons license.

Imagine a new active video game for adults, brought to you by your favorite magazine brand.  Nat Ives at AdAge gives the details:

“Now Rodale siblings Men’s Health and Women’s Health have teamed up with Ubisoft on a fitness game called “Your Shape: Fitness Evolved,” due this November for Microsoft’s Xbox and its Kinect motion-detection system. The game’s cover advertises “Workouts Created by Men’s Health and Women’s Health.” Signs in the game’s virtual gym say things like “Men’s Health Sleeve-Busting Arms Workout.”“

The timing of this release is interesting, as ‘Your Shape’ will compete in a video game category where overall sales are down in recent years, and where best sellers are war games, such as Modern Warfare 2.   Among motion-detecting fitness games, competitors include Jillian Michaels’ Fitness Ultimatum for the Nintendo Wii, Wii Sports Resort and Wii Fit Plus.

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Sex in the media: What’s a person to do?

A teen boy using the computer

Talking about media use can be beneficial according to the AAP

Sex is prevalent in the media, and the American Academy of Pediatrics has something to say about it. In the September issue of Pediatrics, the American Academy of Pediatrics published a revised policy statement that addresses sexual messages in the media and has some recommendations for parents and pediatricians. The original piece was published in 2001.

New recommendations include:

  • Having pediatricians help parents and teens recognize the importance of the issue by asking two media related questions at visits: How much time do you spend daily with entertainment media? And is there a TV or Internet access in your bedroom?
  • Encouraging parents (and pediatricians) to understand social networking sites and to talk to their kids about them
  • Encouraging parents to use media storylines to discuss sex with their teens
  • Restricting the airing of erectile dysfunction ads to after 10 p.m. because they can confuse young viewers

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The beaches seem fine, but what about mental health?

President Obama looking at tar balls in Louisiana

President Barack Obama and Lafourche Parish President Charlotte Randolf, left, inspect a tar ball as they look at the visible effects of the BP oil spill, May 28, 2010. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

BP, the government and volunteers have wiped most of the Gulf Coast beaches clean after the Deepwater Horizon explosion in April sent nearly 5 million barrels of oil into the surrounding waters. But there are still invisible scars left behind, and SAMHSA (the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration) has dedicated a specific website to aid those who are struggling with the aftereffects of the oil spill on their own lives.

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New “heart healthy” online tool targets Hispanic-Americans

cheerios in a heart-shaped bowlThe American Heart Association has recently introduced a new Spanish-language tool, intended to decrease the risk of heart disease and stroke in Hispanics. The feelings of need for such a tool rises from a recent survey that unveiled that although 45 percent of Hispanic-Americans reported being at ideal heart health, 66 percent also reported that they had been advised by a physician to improve their heart health or been told they were at risk for heart disease, according to Medical News Today.

Marcando Los 7 Pasos Para Mi Salud encourages users to register on the American Heart Association website in order to take a short survey that asks questions regarding topics like diet, exercise, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and smoking status. The tool then rates the user’s health at poor, intermediate, or ideal and provides information that identifies specific recommendations on how to improve one’s heart health.

Ileana Piña, M.D., a professor of medicine at Case Western Reserve University and an American Heart Association spokeswoman says that, “Marcando Los 7 Pasos Para Mi Salud provides a simple step-by-step approach and action plan that could help Hispanics achieve healthier lives.”

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No longer in denial: FDA requires more food labeling

Popcorn and soda: calorie content soon to be labeled as regulated by the FDA.

What will consumers do when we are clearly told of the calorie counts of our favorite convenience store hotdogs, grocery store deli sandwiches, or tubs of movie theater popcorn?  Will we buy differently or favor smaller portions in an effort to trim our collective waistlines?

The FDA is betting ‘yes’ with new proposed menu labeling regulations, which stem from a section of the health care reform bill signed into law this March by President Barack Obama.  A New York City ordinance required restaurants there to start posting calorie contents on menus in 2008, and about 20 cities or states have since followed suit, according to an article published by The Wall Street Journal last week.

WSJ reporter Janet Adamy continued;

“In preliminary guidelines released last week, the Food and Drug Administration said the scope of the law stretches beyond restaurants to encompass airlines, trains, grocery-store food courts, movie theaters and convenience stores that qualify as chains. Within grocery stores, the agency said, it is considering including salad bars, store bakeries, pizza bars and delicatessens. Stadiums aren’t listed since they aren’t chains.”

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Hurricane Earl and your health promotes staying healthy during hurricanes. gives tips for staying safe and healthy during hurricanes.

If you live anywhere between North Carolina and Maine, you know Hurricane Earl is headed your way. Maybe you bought some more bread and milk at the grocery yesterday. In the worst case scenario, you are packing up and leaving town.

But the CDC wants people to remember that weather preparedness doesn’t just mean boarding up the windows. They have a public relations campaign to help you, and your pets, prepare, evacuate, and recover. Don’t forget to stock up on prescription medicines, food, and a first aid kit, and make sure everyone in your family has a plan, says the CDC. Even though half a decade has passed since Hurricane Katrina hit, the images of people suffering should be enough to help bolster the CDC’s message.

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Where there’s a will, there’s a way

Big tobacco has done it again! They’ve found a way to circumvent advertisement restrictionyoung girl smoking cigarettes, so finds a recent study done by researchers at the University of Otaga, Wellington, New Zealand. Their study examined YouTube and unsurprisingly enough, found a good amount of pro-tobacco videos on the site.

Most of the pro-tobacco clips found in the study included images related with a particular tobacco brand or people smoking the branded product. Not only does branding appear, but the researchers commented that,

It is disturbing to note that some of the pro-tobacco videos appeared to be of a professional standard, many followed similar themes within a brand and large numbers contained images or music that may be copyrighted to tobacco companies but have not been removed.”

Tobacco companies denied allegations that they are intentionally using YouTube as a means of advertisement.

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Back to School: Interdisciplinary Health Communication 101

Two women are seated outside, engaged in conversation.Upstream is your premiere source for discussion, news and information in interdisciplinary health communication.  As we launch into another academic year, we are both building on our past and leaning into the new.  Hence, this is a unique opportunity to reflect briefly on our work as researchers, practitioners, students, and enthusiasts.

What is Health Communication?  What is not health communication? And who are key players in our field?

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