Global Health Blogs with Professor Swahn

Student Reflections on Topics Covered in our Class

Global Health Blogs with Professor Swahn

The Exploitation of Commercial Determinants of Health During COVID-19

September 21, 2020 · 1 Comment · CDoH, Uncategorized

         Sugary foods have all played an powerful role in our daily LIVES. They are literally available everywhere to us, and have been placed right at our fingertips.  Alcohol, fast foods, sugary beverages , and many more all change the way we think especially during these times of crisis. In this blog, I will discuss how COVID-19 has had a significant impact on the unhealthy commodities in all parts of the world. I will further offer suggestions on how we can negate the commercial determinants and further exploitation of health.

Big business and companies have always been on the mission of charging people for profit. Big business often times exploit people for so little of what they know. I offer, 

Is there really anything new under the sun?

       Lets first take a look at KRISPY KREME.  According to our class reading “Signature Virtue Promoting Harm” Unhealthy Commodity Industries; international Company Krispy Kreme leveraged COVID-19 in  a marketing campaign purposely serving smiles by offering free donuts to health care and frontline workers in New Zealand, and the US, and the UK.



            Now according to product development this  can be great, however there are more darker themes present  Let us take a look closer now at another country below.


             Next we take a look at the crooked scandals of McDonalds, and Dominoes in a lesser developing country. Here we have a country that does not have as many resources as UK, USA, or NEW ZEALEND. In Guatemala, dire needs are more prevalent such as food, and running water. However ,McDonalds  took it upon themselves to deliver sizeable meals to health staff at a COVID-19 hospital. Dominoes had also made it a pressing need to deliver pizzas to 223 Guatemalans arriving home the United States living in a temporary shelter. 

             Next we will discuss the Marketing Strategies of these companies. According to Ms. Prachi Kathuria, Co-Coordinator, Healthy India-Alliance NCD Alliance.The Covid-19 Pandemic has exposed thee vulnerability of people living with NCD’s to COVID-19 related complications. The unhealthy commodities industries have even managed to plot misleading marketing strategies.”

       Several companies have adopted a online media measure to leverage promotions during this pandemic because of consumer usage and time spent on there phones. Even I have bearded witnessed to these ideas, for example, Instagram, and Facebook will bombard you with multiple advertisements based on the seasons of your clicks, and searches. Below are several marketing strategies implemented by various companies across the globe

     –   In the Philippines, KFC and Nintendo joined forced to combine popular Facebook game “Animal Crossing,” with fast food and social media. What players can do is visit a virtual KFC cafĂ© and win real KFC giveaways.

  –      In the US, fast food chain Burger King gave give-away products to those who caught a QR-code moving around there TV-SCREENS.

  –     In Romania, a branch of “MILKA CHOCLATE” recruited young social media and YouTube followers into a virtual Easter egg hunt. 

      – In other countries such as Kampala, alcohol is being advertised as a commodity on  billboards,  street signs, and for local newspapers, for the youth in that country according to (Swahn et al).


    In many other countries unhealthy commodity industries are globalizing more and more. They are offering many things such as donations and partnering with local and national charities such as NGO’S. What this means is they have more access to reach MUCH target target audiences. Below are a few example of what’s bein done. 


     – In Thailand, PEPSICO has partnered with the anti-poverty agency Raks, Thai, a member of CARE     international. What there doing is they’re reaching out out to less impoverished communities to help them raise money, for example the “Give for Hope” partnership with Raks Thai, announced a $18 million to donate.


      -In Canada  “Kraft Heinz Canada” is similarly promoting its partnership with “Food Banks Canada” providing million meals in need to Canadian. This is also accompanied by a twitter campaign high-lilting ultra-processed food products such as the  Kraft Dinner macaroni and cheese, and peanut butter.


         -In Bolivia, the Coca, Cola Company donated close to $300,000 through UNDP to provide assistance to healthcare workers and vulnerable populations.

      – These collaborations with local NGO’s have led to an increase patterns of marketing strategies, moreover due to the response of COVID-19 more partnerships, with gaming industries have also began such as the online gaming company “Flowplay” which has worked together with the American CANCER SOCIETY to generate funds to support “Hope Lodge Facilities,” which offers there caregivers and cancer patients a place to stay.

      Finally we will discuss how the commodity industries have had a long history of influencing public policy with in the Government…

Some of the things which have been done…. .

           –Lobbying to have unhealthy commodities included in a list of “essential products” (this highlights the companies use of trade pressure)

         – Working to undermine health and environment regulations.

        -seeking to regulate the easing of lockdown

         –attempting to shape strategies for economic recovery

          Ultimately these unhealthy food corporations must be stopped. I suggest that we take steps on multi-national levels to increase food awareness in healthier choices. Some suggestions would be 


  • Give classes on nutrition (locally) / (government subsidized)
  • Introduce people to diseases/illness which are directly resulted from unhealthy  commercial products. (i/e pamphlets on health, videos/ted-talks)
  • PROVIDE Funding for healthier food access
  • Allow different partnerships which support more vegan lifestyle choices.
  • Entertain the possibility of self sustainable food growth, (urban gardens).









One Comment

  • chill62

    I have also seen the increase in unhealthy food advertisements during the pandemic. Since these establishments you mentioned above are relatively cheap, they are taking advantage of vulnerable populations that are having monetary issues during this time also.

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