Category Archives: Health Policy

Environmental Justice and Human Health

Human health is inseparable from environmental health. Our exposure to toxic environmental chemicals through air, water, food, and consumer products is contributing to a surge in chronic disease (cancer, asthma, diabetes, COPD, etc.), developmental delay, neurodegenerative disease, and infertility. Our climate emergency’s associated catastrophic events (hurricanes, wildfires, floods, famine, etc.) are driving massive human displacement as populations flee climate-fueled war, conflict, and environmental degradation. Existing health challenges and health care systems will need considerable investments of resources and attention in order to mitigate the impacts. The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed how the web of life connects human health to other species and global health, and the importance of systemic solutions.

Environmental threats to human health are not experienced equally among populations. Structural and institutional racism, and other economic and public policy choices underlie the fact that some communities suffer more and die earlier from environmental health harms. While health care professionals work to mitigate suffering of individuals, the cause and enduring solutions to these problems are systemic, and as such, require solutions that address the upstream influences on health at a society-wide level. Thus, research and policy decisions are needed that address the systemic roots of environmental threats to our health.

This series explores a range of environmental contributors to human health and disease through the lens of our most vulnerable populations, and seeks to identify and advocate for systemic solutions by health professionals and community members.

The series is co-organized by the UCSF EaRTH Center, UCSF Program for Reproductive Health and the Environment (PRHE), and San Francisco Bay Physicians for Social Responsibility (PSR) and further supported by the UCSF Center for Climate Health and Equity and the Environmental and Climate Health Student Advisory Group. Series Co-Chairs include Annemarie Charlesworth, Patrice Sutton, Robert Gould, Nadia Gaber.

Browse more programs in Environmental Justice and Human Health: Creating Systemic Solutions.

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Privacy, Practicality, and Potential: The Use of Technology for Healthy Aging

That wearable fitness device on your wrist is measuring so much more than your exercise levels. Digital tools offer unprecedented opportunities in health research and healthcare but it can come at the cost of privacy. Six days of step counts are enough to identify you among a million other people – and the type of inferences that can be made from other everyday behaviors is growing rapidly.

Camille Nebeker, EdD, MS is Associate Professor of Behavioral Medicine in the Department of Family Medicine & Public Health at the UC San Diego School of Medicine. She discusses the ethical considerations of informed consent and potential harms and benefits of these technologies. She also shares ideas on how we can work together to create systems that define and encourage safe digital health research and practice.

Watch — The Digital Revolution: Ethical Implications for Research on Healthy Aging

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Food Industry Manipulation

Do you want to find out how various food and beverage manufacturers have manipulated science and public health policy over the last 50 years? Now you can with the new searchable archive of food industry documents at the UCSF Industry Documents Library. The Food Industry Documents Archive https://www.industrydocumentslibrary.ucsf.edu/ is a brand-new collection of over 30,000 documents related to the food industry and its impact on public health.

This new archive builds on the long history at UCSF of caring for those suffering from obesity and helps researchers get at the root causes that contribute to the disease. This archive comes at an important time as researchers and policy experts take great strides to address problems of industry influence on our health, food and human rights. Data is powerful in creating change and now documents that the industry wanted secret are safe and available.

Existing archives of Chemical, Drug, and Tobacco Industry collections at UCSF have saved millions of lives. The future research with the Food Industry Documents Archive materials will have a dramatic impact on human health and policy changes.

Find out more about these documents that highlight marketing, research, and policy strategies used by food companies and trade groups, and reveal the communications and connections between industry, academic, and regulatory organizations.

These two programs feature speeches and presentations from the unveiling of the archive.

Watch UCSF’s New Food Industry Documents Archive, Part 1
Watch UCSF’s New Food Industry Documents Archive, Part 2

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Evolving Medical Training

Dr. Rebecca Berman was recently recruited to UCSF to direct the internal medicine residency program, generally considered to be one of the nation’s finest. Dr. Berman comes to UCSF from Harvard, where she directed the primary care residency program at Brigham & Womens Hospital.

She sits down with Dr. Bob Wachter, Chair, Department of Medicine, UCSF, to discuss her upbringing, her surprising undergraduate pursuits and her longstanding commitment to social justice and health equity. She discusses her approach to mentoring and career development, and her view of how medical training needs to evolve to meet the needs of trainees and patients. She also talks about how her work-life balance and describes being a doctor as a great Mom job.

Watch Dr. Rebecca Berman – A Life in Medicine: People Shaping Healthcare Today

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Beyond Food and Exercise: the Other Factors in the Obesity Epidemic

Everything you come in contact with, every second of every day, makes an impact on your health. It’s known as the exposome. It’s a relatively new concept, first defined in 2005. The exposome includes the food you eat, the beauty products you use, the air you breathe, your friends and family, and everything in between. Studying it, could be the key to understanding the obesity epidemic.

That was the focus of the 12th Annual Sugar, Stress, Environment & Weight Symposium put on by The Consortium for Obesity Assessment, Study, and Treatment at UCSF. Popular opinion would have you believe that obesity is a simple equation of too much food and not enough exercise. But, researchers say the problem is far more complex. In this eye-opening lecture series, you will hear how polluted air has been linked to obesity in children living in California’s Central Valley. You will learn about obesogens – chemicals that disrupt the endocrine system. And, you will understand how stress can create a vicious cycle of weight gain.

The final talk focuses on how you can remove toxins from your personal exposome and the progress being made around the world. New labeling in the food and beauty industries allows you to make smarter decisions. LEED buildings are becoming more common in the United States. And, monitoring systems for exposome pollutants are getting better. There is plenty being done, and plenty you can do, to make an impact.

Browse more programs in UCSF Consortium for Obesity Assessment, Study and Treatment

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