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Brands with personalities - good for businesses, but bad for public health? A content analysis of how food and beverage brands personify themselves on Twitter

Greene, Tenay; Seet, Carla; Rodríguez Barrio, Andrea; McIntyre, Dana; Kelly, Bridget; Bragg, Marie A
OBJECTIVE:To examine the extent to which food and beverage brands exhibit personalities on Twitter, quantify Twitter users' engagement with posts displaying personality features, and quantify advertising spending across these brands on Twitter. DESIGN/METHODS:We identified 100 tweets from 10 food and beverage brands that displayed "personality," and 100 "control" tweets (i.e., a post by that brand on the same day). Our codebook quantified the following personification strategies: 1) humor; 2) trendy language; and 3) absence of food product mentions. We used media articles to quantify other personification strategies: 4) referencing trending topics; 5) referencing current events; 6) referencing internet memes; and 7) targeting niche audiences. We calculated the brands' number of tweets, re-tweets, "likes," and comments and report the relationship between advertising spending and retweets per follower. SETTING/METHODS:Twitter posts. PARTICIPANTS/METHODS:10 food and beverage brands that were described in media articles (e.g., Forbes) as having distinct personalities. RESULTS:Personality tweets earned 123,013 retweets, 732,076 "likes," and 14,806 comments whereas control tweets earned 61,044 retweets, 256,105 "likes," and 14,572 comments. The strategies used most included: humor (n;81), trendy language (n;80), and trending topics (n;47). The three brands that spent the most on advertising had similar or fewer retweets per follower than the four that spent relatively little on advertising. CONCLUSIONS:Some food and beverage brands have distinct "personalities" on Twitter that generate millions of "likes" and retweets. Some retweets have an inverse relationship with advertising spending, suggesting "personalities" may be a uniquely powerful advertising tool for targeting young adults.
PMID: 33820575
ISSN: 1475-2727
CID: 4864672

Socially-supportive norms and mutual aid of people who use opioids: An analysis of Reddit during the initial COVID-19 pandemic

Bunting, Amanda M; Frank, David; Arshonsky, Joshua; Bragg, Marie A; Friedman, Samuel R; Krawczyk, Noa
BACKGROUND:Big events (i.e., unique historical disruptions) like the COVID-19 epidemic and its associated period of social distancing can transform social structures, social interactions, and social norms. Social distancing rules and the fear of infection have greatly reduced face-to-face interactions, increased loneliness, reduced ties to helping institutions, and may also have disrupted the opioid use behaviors of people who use drugs. This research used Reddit to examine the impact of COVID-19 on the social networks and social processes of people who use opioids. METHODS:Data were collected from the social media forum, Reddit.com. At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in the U.S. (March 5, 2020, to May 13, 2020), 2,000 Reddit posts were collected from the two most popular opioid subreddits (r/OpiatesRecovery, r/Opiates). Posts were reviewed for relevance to COVID-19 and opioid use resulting in a final sample of 300. Thematic analysis was guided by the Big Events framework. RESULTS:The COVID-19 pandemic was found to create changes in the social networks and daily lives among persons who use opioids. Adaptions to these changes shifted social networks leading to robust social support and mutual aid on Reddit, including sharing and seeking advice on facing withdrawal, dealing with isolation, managing cravings, and accessing recovery resources. CONCLUSIONS:Reddit provided an important source of social support and mutual aid for persons who use opioids. Findings indicate online social support networks are beneficial to persons who use opioids, particularly during big events where isolation from other social support resources may occur.
PMID: 33757708
ISSN: 1879-0046
CID: 4822642

"How will I get my next week's script?" Reactions of Reddit opioid forum users to changes in treatment access in the early months of the coronavirus pandemic

Krawczyk, Noa; Bunting, Amanda M; Frank, David; Arshonsky, Joshua; Gu, Yuanqi; Friedman, Samuel R; Bragg, Marie A
BACKGROUND:The COVID-19 pandemic poses significant challenges to people with opioid use disorder (OUD). As localities enforce lockdowns and pass emergency OUD treatment regulations, questions arise about how these changes will affect access and retention in care. In this study, we explore the influence of COVID-19 on access to, experiences with, and motivations for OUD treatment through a qualitative analysis of public discussion forums on Reddit. METHODS:We collected data from Reddit, a free and international online platform dedicated to public discussions and user-generated content. We extracted 1000 of the most recent posts uploaded between March 5th and May 13th, 2020 from each of the two most popular opioid subreddits "r/Opiates" and "r/OpiatesRecovery" (total 2000). We reviewed posts for relevance to COVID-19 and opioid use and coded content using a hybrid inductive-deductive approach. Thematic analysis identified common themes related to study questions of interest. RESULTS:Of 2000 posts reviewed, 300 (15%) discussed topics related to the intersection of opioid use and COVID-19. Five major themes related to OUD treatment were identified: Concern about closure of OUD treatment services; transition to telehealth and virtual care; methadone treatment requirements and increased exposure to COVID-19; reactions to changing regulations on medications for OUD; and influences of the pandemic on treatment motivation and progress. CONCLUSION/CONCLUSIONS:In the face of unprecedented challenges due to COVID-19, reactions of Reddit opioid forum users ranged from increased distress in accessing and sustaining treatment, to encouragement surrounding new modes of treatment and opportunities to engage in care. New and less restrictive avenues for treatment were welcomed by many, but questions remain about how new norms and policy changes will be sustained beyond this pandemic and impact OUD treatment access and outcomes long-term.
PMID: 33558165
ISSN: 1873-4758
CID: 4779462

Student-led research team-building program may help junior faculty increase productivity in competitive biomedical research environment

Bragg, Marie; Arshonsky, Joshua; Pageot, Yrvane; Eby, Margaret; Tucker, Carolyn M; Yin, Shonna; Goldmann, Emily; Jay, Melanie
BACKGROUND:Interdisciplinary research teams can increase productivity among academic researchers, yet many junior investigators do not have the training or financial resources to build productive teams. We developed and tested the acceptability and feasibility of three low-cost services to help junior faculty build and maintain their own research teams. METHODS:At an urban academic medical centre, we implemented three types of consultation services: 1) giving talks on evidence-based best practices for building teams; 2) providing easy-to-use team building resources via email; and 3) offering a year-long consultation service-co-led by students-that taught faculty to build and maintain research teams. Our primary outcome was the number of faculty who used each service. For the yearlong consultation service, we asked faculty participants to complete three online self-assessments to rate their leadership confidence, the team's performance, and which of the consultation components were most helpful. We used descriptive statistics to evaluate faculty assessment scores at three timepoints by comparing median scores and interquartile ranges. RESULTS:We gave 31 talks on team building to 328 faculty and postdoctoral fellows from 2014 to 2020. Separately, 26 faculty heard about our research team building expertise and requested materials via email. For the consultation service, we helped build or enhance 45 research teams from 2014 to 2020. By the end of the consultation, 100% of the faculty reported they were still maintaining their team. In the initial survey, the majority of participants (95.7%, n = 22) reported having no or few experiences in building teams. Further, when asked to rate their team's performance at 12-months, faculty highly rated many elements of both teamwork and taskwork, specifically their team's productivity (6/7 points), morale (6/7 points), and motivation (6/7 points). By the end of the program, faculty participants also highly rated two components of the consultation program: recruitment assistance (7/10 points) and provision of team management tools (7/10 points). CONCLUSIONS:For participating faculty, our program provided valued guidance on recruitment assistance and team management tools. The high demand for team-building resources suggests that junior faculty urgently need better training on how to develop and manage their own team.
PMCID:7784259
PMID: 33397349
ISSN: 1472-6920
CID: 4762692

Waste generation and carbon emissions of a hospital kitchen in the US: Potential for waste diversion and carbon reductions

Thiel, Cassandra L; Park, SiWoon; Musicus, Aviva A; Agins, Jenna; Gan, Jocelyn; Held, Jeffrey; Horrocks, Amy; Bragg, Marie A
This study measured the total quantity and composition of waste generated in a large, New York City (NYC) hospital kitchen over a one-day period to assess the impact of potential waste diversion strategies in potential weight of waste diverted from landfill and reduction in greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. During the one-day audit, the hospital kitchen generated 1515.15 kg (1.7 US tons) of solid waste daily or 0.23 kg of total waste per meal served. Extrapolating to all meals served in 2019, the hospital kitchen generates over 442,067 kg (487 US tons) of waste and emits approximately 294,466 kg of CO2e annually from waste disposal. Most of this waste (85%, 376,247 kg or 415 US tons annually) is currently sent to landfill. With feasible changes, including increased recycling and moderate composting, this hospital could reduce landfilled waste by 205,245 kg (226 US tons, or 55% reduction) and reduce GHG emissions by 189,025 kg CO2e (64% reduction). Given NYC's ambitious waste and GHG emission reduction targets outlined in its OneNYC strategic plan, studies analyzing composition, emissions, and waste diversion potential of large institutions can be valuable in achieving city sustainability goals.
PMID: 33730046
ISSN: 1932-6203
CID: 4819722

Social Media Accounts of Food and Beverage Brands Have Disproportionately More Black and Hispanic Followers than White Followers

Rummo, Pasquale E; Arshonsky, Josh H; Sharkey, Andrea L; Cassidy, Omni L; Bragg, Marie A
PMCID:8237102
PMID: 34235366
ISSN: 2473-1242
CID: 4932192

An online randomized trial of healthy default beverages and unhealthy beverage restrictions on children's menus

Rummo, Pasquale E; Moran, Alyssa J; Musicus, Aviva A; Roberto, Christina A; Bragg, Marie A
Several U.S. jurisdictions have adopted policies requiring healthy beverage defaults on children's menus, but it is unknown whether such policies or restrictions leads to fewer calories ordered. We recruited 479 caregivers of children for an online choice experiment and instructed participants to order dinner for their youngest child (2-6 years) from two restaurant menus. Participants were randomly assigned to one type of menu: 1) standard beverages on children's menus (Control; n = 155); 2) healthy beverages on children's menus (water, milk, or 100% juice), with unhealthy beverages available as substitutions (Default; n = 162); or 3) healthy beverages on children's menus, with no unhealthy beverage substitutions (Restriction; n = 162). We used linear regression with bootstrapping to examine differences between conditions in calories ordered from beverages. Secondary outcomes included percent of participants ordering unhealthy beverages (full-calorie soda, diet soda, and/or sugar-sweetened fruit drinks) and calories from unhealthy beverages. Calories ordered from beverages did not differ across conditions at Chili's [Default: 97.6 (SD = 69.8); p = 0.82; Restriction: 102.7 (SD = 71.5); p = 0.99; Control: 99.4 (SD = 72.7)] or McDonald's [Default: 90.2 (SD = 89.1); p = 0.55; Restriction: 89.0 (SD = 81.0); p = 0.94; Control: 96.5 (SD = 95.2)]. There were no differences in the percent of orders or calories ordered from unhealthy beverages. Though Restriction participants ordered fewer calories from full-calorie soda [(3.0 (SD = 21.6)] relative to Control participants [13.4 (SD = 52.1); p = 0.04)] at Chili's, we observed no such difference between Default and Control participants, or across McDonald's conditions. Overall, there was no effect of healthy default beverages or restrictions in reducing total calories ordered from unhealthy beverages for children in our experiment.
PMCID:7726712
PMID: 33318891
ISSN: 2211-3355
CID: 4717712

Child Social Media Influencers and Unhealthy Food Product Placement

Alruwaily, Amaal; Mangold, Chelsea; Greene, Tenay; Arshonsky, Josh; Cassidy, Omni; Pomeranz, Jennifer L; Bragg, Marie
OBJECTIVES:We aimed to determine the frequency with which kid influencers promote branded and unbranded food and drinks during their YouTube videos and assess the nutritional quality of food and drinks shown. METHODS:Researchers used Socialbakers data to identify the 5 most-watched kid influencers (ages 3 to 14 years) on YouTube in 2019. We searched for 50 of their most-watched videos and 50 of their videos that featured food and/or drinks on the thumbnail image of the video. We coded whether kid influencers consumed or played with food or toys, quantified the number of minutes food and/or drinks appeared, and recorded names of branded food and/or drinks. We assessed the nutritional quality of foods using the Nutrient Profile Model and identified the number of drinks with added sugar. RESULTS:= 7; 2.4%; eg, Yoplait yogurt). CONCLUSIONS:Kid influencers generate millions of impressions for unhealthy food and drink brands through product placement. The Federal Trade Commission should strengthen regulations regarding product placement on YouTube videos featuring young children.
PMID: 33106342
ISSN: 1098-4275
CID: 4940862

Understanding the Extent of Adolescents' Willingness to Engage With Food and Beverage Companies' Instagram Accounts: Experimental Survey Study

Lutfeali, Samina; Ward, Tisheya; Greene, Tenay; Arshonsky, Josh; Seixas, Azizi; Dalton, Madeline; Bragg, Marie A
BACKGROUND:Social media platforms have created a new advertising frontier, yet little is known about the extent to which this interactive form of advertising shapes adolescents' online relationships with unhealthy food brands. OBJECTIVE:We aimed to understand the extent to which adolescents' preferences for Instagram food ads are shaped by the presence of comments and varying numbers of "likes." We hypothesized that adolescents would show the highest preferences for ads with more "likes" and comments. We predicted that these differences would be greater among adolescents who were "heavy social media users" (ie, >3 hours daily) vs "light social media users" (ie, <3 hours daily). METHODS:We recruited Black and non-Latinx White adolescents (aged 13-17 years; N=832) from Dynata, a firm that maintains online participant panels. Participants completed an online survey in which they were randomized to view and rate Instagram food ads that either did or did not show comments. Within each condition, adolescents were randomized to view 4 images that had high (>10,000), medium (1000-10,000), or low (<100) numbers of "likes." Adolescents reported ad preferences and willingness to engage with the brand. RESULTS:Adolescents rated ads with medium or high numbers of "likes" higher than ads with few "likes" (P=.001 and P=.002, respectively). Heavy social media users (>3 hours/day) were 6.366 times more willing to comment on ads compared to light users (P<.001). CONCLUSIONS:Adolescents interact with brands in ways that mimic interactions with friends on social media, which is concerning when brands promote unhealthy products. Adolescents also preferred ads with many "likes," demonstrating the power of social norms in shaping behavior. As proposed in 2019, the Children's Online Privacy and Protection Act should expand online advertising restrictions to include adolescents aged 12 to 16 years.
PMID: 33107836
ISSN: 2369-2960
CID: 4661482

Ubiquity of Sugary Drinks and Processed Food Throughout Food and Non-Food Retail Settings in NYC

Mezzacca, Tamar Adjoian; Anekwe, Amaka V; Farley, Shannon M; Kessler, Kimberly A; Rosa, Michelle Q; Bragg, Marie A; Rummo, Pasquale E
Sugary drinks and processed foods are associated with negative health outcomes in adults, including weight gain, and their consumption should be limited. However, they may be difficult to avoid if they are ubiquitously available in the retail environment. This study aimed to quantify the availability of such products for sale throughout New York City (NYC) at both food and non-food retailers. In 2018, ten one-mile retail-dense NYC street segments were selected for the sample. Data collectors canvassed each segment and visited all retailers, recording the type (food/non-food) and presence of processed food and beverages for sale. Descriptive statistics were analyzed for availability of products sold in retailers overall and by retailer type. In total, 491 retailers were identified (191 food, 300 non-food). Sugary drinks were available at 83% of food retailers and 19% of non-food retailers, while processed foods were available at 61% of food retailers and 16% of non-food retailers. Eighty-five percent of food retailers and 21% of non-food retailers sold sugary drinks and/or processed foods. This study supports and builds on results of previous research examining the availability of food and beverages in the retail environment. Sugary drinks and processed foods are ubiquitous at food and non-food retailers, providing pervasive cues to consume energy-dense, nutrient-poor products. Restrictions on where such products can be sold merit consideration.
PMID: 32323175
ISSN: 1573-3610
CID: 4397302