Jennifer L. Pomeranz

Jennifer L. Pomeranz
Jennifer L. Pomeranz

Assistant Professor of Public Health Policy and Management

Professional overview

Professor Jennifer Pomeranz is a public health lawyer who researches policy and legal options to address the food environment, obesity, products that cause public harm, and social injustice that lead to health disparities.

Prior to joining the NYU faculty, Professor Pomeranz was an Assistant Professor at the College of Public Health at Temple University and in the Center for Obesity Research and Education at Temple. She was previously the Director of Legal Initiatives at the Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity at Yale University. She has also authored numerous peer-reviewed and law review journal articles and a book, Food Law for Public Health, published by Oxford University Press in 2016.

Professor Pomeranz leads the Public Health Policy Research Lab and regularly teaches Public Health Law and Food Policy for Public Health.

"Policy is so important because it is the most effective way to influence public health. I got into public health to change the world -- to improve health and address inequities.”

Education

BA, History, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI
JD, Juris Doctorate, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY
MPH, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA

Areas of research and study

Diet-related disease
Products that cause harm
Public Health Law
Public Health Policy
Social injustices that create health disparities

Publications

Publications

Abortion Disclosure Laws and the First Amendment: The Broader Public Health Implications of the Supreme Court's Becerra Decision

Pomeranz, J.

Publication year

2019

Journal title

American Journal of Public Health

Volume

109

Issue

3

Page(s)

412-418
Abstract
In 2018, the US Supreme Court analyzed a California state requirement that clinics serving pregnant women must provide government notices-1 for licensed clinics about the availability of state health services including abortion and 1 for unlicensed clinics, notifying potential clients that the clinics are not licensed medical facilities and have no licensed medical professionals on-site. The Supreme Court found that both notices violated the First Amendment rights of the clinics. The Supreme Court's opinion elicits new uncertainties about the government's ability to require the disclosure of factual information in the context of reproductive health services and more broadly in the commercial context. However, the Supreme Court's silence on 1 of the state's purposes for the unlicensed clinic notice, which was to address deceptive speech by the clinics, highlights a potential avenue for future regulation. Policymakers can require the disclosure of factual information in the commercial context specifically to prevent consumer deception consistent with the First Amendment. Public health researchers can generate evidence to support such disclosure requirements intended to protect health and safety.

Harnessing the Power of Food Labels for Public Health

Pomeranz, J., & Lurie, P. G.

Publication year

2019

Journal title

American Journal of Preventive Medicine

Volume

56

Issue

4

Page(s)

622-625

Key Drivers of State Preemption of Food, Nutrition, and Agriculture Policy: A Thematic Content Analysis of Public Testimony

Pomeranz, J., & Pertschuk, M.

Publication year

2019

Journal title

American Journal of Health Promotion
Abstract
Purpose: Local communities are often active public health policy makers, so state preemption—when the state withdraws authority from local governments—can hinder public health progress. Kansas enacted the most sweeping law in the nation preempting food, nutrition, and agricultural policy. Design: Qualitative thematic content analysis was used on public comments to identify and evaluate common and key arguments. A codebook was developed using an iterative process. Open coding was applied to all comments. Setting: All testimony and comments submitted by individuals and organizations to the Kansas State Legislature on the preemptive bill. Participants: Eight types of commentators submitted 34 written and 12 oral comments. Measures: The data were evaluated on a latent level to examine underlying drivers of preemption. Results: Comments addressed 18 themes, referenced 366 times; 68% in opposition. Common themes included local control, food labeling, public health, need for statewide standards, and debate over food regulation. Key themes included the need for state and federal uniformity to support businesses and consumers, debate over topics not in the bill, the value of local control, confusion over bill coverage, and outside influences. Conclusion: Confusion about bill language and coverage, the combination of food and agricultural issues, and backing by multinational corporations helped propel preemption forward in Kansas. Food policy stakeholders nationally can anticipate similar arguments and strategies in their state.

Legal Feasibility of US Government Policies to Reduce Cancer Risk by Reducing Intake of Processed Meat

Wilde, P., Pomeranz, J., Lizewski, L. J., Ruan, M., Mozaffarian, D., & Zhang, F. F.

Publication year

2019

Journal title

Milbank Quarterly
Abstract
Policy Points High-profile international evidence reviews by the World Health Organization, the World Cancer Research Fund, the American Institute for Cancer Research, and the American Cancer Society concluded that processed meat consumption increases the risk of cancer. The red meat and processed meat industries are influential in the United States and in several other nations. The US federal government supports public-private partnerships for commodity meat promotion and advertising. Four potential policy options to affect consumption of processed meat are taxation, reduced processed meat quantities in school meal standards, public service announcements, and warning labels. Feasibility of these options would be enhanced by an explicit and science-based statement on processed meat in the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Context: The World Health Organization, the World Cancer Research Fund, and the American Cancer Society have each in recent years concluded that processed meats are probable carcinogens. The 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans did not separately evaluate health effects of processed meat, although it mentioned lower processed meat intakes among characteristics of healthy diets. Methods: We summarized the international scientific literature on meat intake and cancer risk; described the scientific and political processes behind the periodic Dietary Guidelines for Americans; described the US red meat and processed meat industries and the economic structure of government-supported industry initiatives for advertising and promotion; and reviewed and analyzed specific factors and precedents that influence the feasibility of four potential policy approaches to reduce processed meat intake. Findings: Based on a review of 800 epidemiological studies, the World Health Organization found sufficient evidence in humans that processed meat is carcinogenic, estimating that each 50-gram increase in daily intake increases the risk of colorectal cancer by 18%. Among the four policy responses we studied, legal feasibility is highest in the US for three policy options: reducing processed meat in school meals and other specific government-sponsored nutrition programs; a local, state, or federal tax on processed meat; and public service announcements on health harms of processed meats by either the government or private sector entities. Legal feasibility is moderate for a fourth policy option, mandatory warning labels, due to outstanding legal questions about the minimum evidence required to support this policy. Political feasibility is influenced by the economic and political power of the meat industries and also depends on decisions in the next round of the Dietary Guidelines for Americans about how to assess and describe the link between processed meat consumption and cancer risk. Conclusions: Public policy initiatives to reduce processed meat intake have a strong scientific and public health justification and are legally feasible, but political feasibility is influenced by the economic and political power of meat industries and also by uncertainty about the likely treatment of processed meat in the 2020-2025 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Mandating front-of-package food labels in the U.S. – What are the First Amendment obstacles?

Pomeranz, J., Wilde, P., Mozaffarian, D., & Micha, R.

Publication year

2019

Journal title

Food Policy
Abstract
Front-of-package (FOP) food labels are symbols, schemes, or systems designed to communicate concise and useful nutrition-related information to consumers to facilitate healthier food choices. FOP label policies have been implemented internationally that could serve as policy models for the U.S. However, the First Amendment poses a potential obstacle to U.S. government-mandated FOP requirements. We systematically reviewed existing international and major U.S.-based nutrition-related FOP labels to consider potential U.S. policy options and conducted legal research to evaluate the feasibility of mandating a FOP label in the U.S. We identified 24 international and 6 U.S.-based FOP labeling schemes. FOP labels which only disclosed nutrient-specific data would likely meet First Amendment requirements. Certain interpretive FOP labels which provide factual information with colors or designs to assist consumers interpret the information could similarly withstand First Amendment scrutiny, but questions remain regarding whether certain colors or shapes would qualify as controversial and not constitutional. Labels that provide no nutrient information and only an image or icon to characterize the entire product would not likely withstand First Amendment scrutiny.

State Preemption of Food and Nutrition Policies and Litigation: Undermining Government's Role in Public Health

Pomeranz, J., Zellers, L., Bare, M., & Pertschuk, M.

Publication year

2019

Journal title

American Journal of Preventive Medicine

Volume

56

Issue

1

Page(s)

47-57
Abstract
Introduction: In the U.S., federal, state, and local governments have various legal tools to support public health and prevent diet-related disease, including enacting policy and bringing lawsuits against businesses that produce harm-causing products. Yet, states preempt, or limit, government's authority to enact public health policies or initiate litigation. Methods: In 2018, research was conducted to find state laws enacted through March 16, 2018, using state legislatures’ websites, LexisNexis, UConn Rudd Center's Legislative Database, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Chronic Disease State Policy Tracking System, and the Internet, that preempt local food and nutrition policies including their legislative histories; and preempt lawsuits related to food consumption and chronic disease (e.g., Commonsense Consumption Acts), including explicitly preempting government activity. Results: Between 2008 and March 16, 2018, 12 states enacted 13 preemptive laws on nutrition labeling, content or “criteria”; consumer incentive items; “food-based health disparities”; sale, distribution, or serving of food and beverages; portion size; food safety; menus; taxes; and “marketing.” Between 2003 and 2013, 26 states enacted laws preempting lawsuits claiming long-term food consumption causes obesity and diet-related disease; of these, ten states explicitly preempt such litigation by the government and five explicitly preempt laws providing litigation as a remedy. Conclusions: State preemption may hinder public health progress by impeding local food and nutrition policies and government-initiated litigation. Local governments are in a prime position to address fundamental concerns, such as reduction of health disparities, the provision of nutrition information, access to healthy food, and the cost of unhealthy food. Government-initiated litigation could potentially support broader policy changes.

State Preemption: Threat to Democracy, Essential Regulation, and Public Health

Pomeranz, J., Zellers, L., Bare, M., Sullivan, P. A., & Pertschuk, M.

Publication year

2019

Journal title

American Journal of Public Health

Volume

109

Issue

2

Page(s)

251-252

Can the Government Require Health Warnings on Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Advertisements?

Pomeranz, J., Mozaffarian, D., & Micha, R.

Publication year

2018

Journal title

JAMA

Volume

319

Issue

3

Page(s)

227-228

Challenging and preventing policies that prohibit local civil rights protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer people

Pomeranz, J.

Publication year

2018

Journal title

American Journal of Public Health

Volume

108

Issue

1

Page(s)

67-72
Abstract
Discrimination causes health inequities for stigmatized groups. Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) individuals, in particular, are at significantly increased risk for disparate health outcomes when they reside in states that fail to extend equal protections to them or that actively deprive equal rights to them. Several states and the federal government have proposed or enacted laws that permit residents to discriminate against LGBTQ individuals. One such law, Arkansas's Intrastate Commerce Improvement Act of 2015, preempts or prohibits local governments from enacting civil rights protections for LGBTQ individuals that are also lacking at the state level. State laws such as Arkansas's undermine local control, damage the economy, and create injustices that harm LGBTQ people. I set forth 2 constitutional arguments to challenge such laws, and I provide information to help advocates support evidence-based policymaking and prevent the passage of similar laws in their states.

Effective National Menu Labeling Requires Accuracy and Enforcement

Huang, Y., Pomeranz, J., & Cash, S. B.

Publication year

2018

Journal title

Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

Volume

118

Issue

6

Page(s)

989-993

Legal and Administrative Feasibility of a Federal Junk Food and Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Tax to Improve Diet

Pomeranz, J., Wilde, P., Huang, Y., Micha, R., & Mozaffarian, D.

Publication year

2018

Journal title

American Journal of Public Health

Volume

108

Issue

2

Page(s)

203-209
Abstract
Objectives. To evaluate legal and administrative feasibility of a federal “junk” food (including sugar-sweetened beverages [SSBs]) tax to improve diet. Methods. To assess food definitions and administration models, we systematically searched (1) PubMed (through May 15, 2017) for articles defining foods subject to taxes, and legal and legislative databases as well as online for (2) US federal, state, and tribal junk food tax bills and laws (January 1, 2012–February 28, 2017); SSB taxes (January 1, 2014–February 28, 2017); and international junk food tax laws (as of February 28, 2017); and (3) federal taxing mechanisms and administrative methods (as of February 28, 2017). Results. Articles recommend taxing foods by product category, broad nutrient criteria, specific nutrients or calories, or a combination. US junk food tax bills (n = 6) and laws (n = 3), international junk food laws (n = 2), and US SSB taxes (n = 10) support taxing foods using category-based (n = 8), nutrient-based (n = 1), or combination (n = 12) approaches. Federal taxing mechanisms (particularly manufacturer excise taxes on alcohol) and administrative methods provide informative models. Conclusions. From legal and administrative perspectives, a federal junk food tax appears feasible based on product categories or combination category-plus-nutrient approaches, using a manufacturer excise tax, with additional support for sugar and graduated tax strategies.

Reductions in national cardiometabolic mortality achievable by food price changes according to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) eligibility and participation

Wilde, P. E., Conrad, Z., Rehm, C. D., Pomeranz, J., Penalvo, J. L., Cudhea, F., Pearson-Stuttard, J., O’Flaherty, M., Micha, R., & Mozaffarian, D.

Publication year

2018

Journal title

Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health
Abstract
Background: Suboptimal diets are a major contributor to cardiometabolic disease (CMD) mortality, and substantial disparities exist for both dietary quality and mortality risk across income groups in the USA. Research is needed to quantify how food pricing policies to subsidise healthy foods and tax unhealthy foods could affect the US CMD mortality, overall and by Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) eligibility and participation. Methods: Comparative risk analysis based on national data on diet (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, 2003-2012) and mortality (mortality-linked National Health Interview Survey) and meta-analyses of policy-diet and diet-disease relationships. Results: A national 10% price reduction on fruits, vegetables, nuts and whole grains was estimated to prevent 19 600 CMD deaths/year, including 2.6% (95% UI 2.4% to 2.8%) of all CMD deaths among SNAP participants, 2.7% (95% UI 2.4% to 3.0%) among SNAP-eligible non-participants and 2.6% (95% UI 2.4% to 2.8%) among SNAP-ineligible non-participants. Adding a national 10% tax on sugar-sweetened beverages (SSBs) and processed meats would prevent a total of 33 700 CMD deaths/year, including 5.9% (95% UI 5.4% to 7.4%) of all CMD deaths among SNAP participants, 4.8% (95% UI 4.4% to 5.2%) among SNAP-eligible non-participants and 4.1% (95% UI 3.8% to 4.5%) among SNAP-ineligible non-participants. Adding a SNAP-targeted 30% subsidy for the same healthy foods would offer the largest reductions in both CMD mortality and disparities. Conclusion: National subsidies for healthy foods and taxes on SSBs and processed meats would each reduce CMD mortality; taxes would also reduce CMD mortality more steeply for SNAP participants than for non-participants.

Sugar-sweetened beverage taxation in the USA, state preemption of local efforts

Pomeranz, J., & Pertschuk, M.

Publication year

2018

Journal title

Public Health Nutrition

Toddler drinks, formulas, and milks: Labeling practices and policy implications

Pomeranz, J., Romo Palafox, M., & Harris, J.

Publication year

2018

Journal title

Preventive Medicine

Volume

109

Page(s)

11-16

Consolidated state political party control and the enactment of obesity-related policies in the United States

Pomeranz, J., Siddiqi, A., Bolanos, G. J., Shor, J. A., & Hamad, R.

Publication year

2017

Journal title

Preventive Medicine
Abstract
States play a key role in addressing obesity and its risk factors through policymaking, but there is variation in state activity nationally. The goal of this study was to examine whether the presence of a consolidated Democratic or Republican "trifecta" - when a state's governorship and both houses of the legislature are dominated by the same political party - or divided government (i.e., without a trifecta) is associated with obesity-related policy content and enactment. In 2016 and 2017, we gathered state bills and laws utilizing the CDC Chronic Disease State Policy Tracking System, and examined the association between state-level political party control and the enactment of state-level obesity-related policies in all states during 2009-2015. The three areas of interest included: policies specifically addressing obesity, nutrition, or physical activity in communities, schools, or workplaces using a public health framework; neutral policies, such as creating government task forces; and policies that employed a business-interest framework (e.g., Commonsense Consumption Acts that prohibit consumer lawsuits against restaurant establishments). Using divided governments as the reference group, we found that states with Democratic trifectas enacted significantly more laws, and more laws with a public health framework. Republican trifecta states enacted more laws related to physical activity, and in some states like Texas, Republican trifectas were exceptionally active in passing policies with a public health framework. States with Republican trifectas enacted a statistically similar amount of laws as states with divided governments. These findings suggest promise across states for obesity-related public health policymaking under a variety of political regimes.

Severe Deprivations of Education Should Be Considered States of Emergency

Pomeranz, J. L., & Chang, V. W.

Publication year

2017

Journal title

Journal of Public Health Management and Practice

Volume

23

Issue

4

Page(s)

336-338

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program Reform:: Retail Requirements, Eligible Foods

Pomeranz, J. L.

Publication year

2017

Journal title

American Journal of Preventive Medicine

Volume

52

Issue

1

Page(s)

130-133

The Potential for Federal Preemption of State and Local Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Taxes

Pomeranz, J., Mozaffarian, D., & Micha, R.

Publication year

2017

Journal title

American Journal of Preventive Medicine

Food law for public health

Pomeranz, J. L.

Publication year

2016

Valuing Federal Taxation Policies to Prevent Disease and Raise Revenue

Pomeranz, J. L.

Publication year

2016

Journal title

American Journal of Preventive Medicine

Variability and limits of US state laws regulating workplace wellness programs

Pomeranz, J. L., Garcia, A. M., Vesprey, R., & Davey, A.

Publication year

2016

Journal title

American Journal of Public Health

Volume

106

Issue

6

Page(s)

1028-1031
Abstract
We examined variability in state laws related to workplace wellness programs for public and private employers. We conducted legal research using LexisNexis and Westlaw to create a master list of US state laws that existed in 2014 dedicated to workplace wellness programs. The master list was then divided into laws focusing on public employers and private employers. We created 2 codebooks to describe the variables used to examine the laws. Coders used LawAtlasSM Workbench tocodethe laws related to workplace wellness programs. Thirty-two states and the District of Columbia had laws related to workplace wellness programs in 2014.Sixteen states and the District of Columbia had laws dedicated to public employers, and16stateshad laws dedicated to private employers. Nine states and the District of Columbia had laws that did not specify employer type. State laws varied greatly in their methods of encouraging or shaping wellness program requirements. Few states have comprehensive requirements or incentives to support evidence-based workplace wellness programs.

BMI and Healthcare Cost Impact of Eliminating Tax Subsidy for Advertising Unhealthy Food to Youth

Sonneville, K. R., Long, M. W., Ward, Z. J., Resch, S. C., Wang, Y. C., Pomeranz, J. L., Moodie, M. L., Carter, R., Sacks, G., Swinburn, B. A., & Gortmaker, S. L.

Publication year

2015

Journal title

American Journal of Preventive Medicine

Volume

49

Issue

1

Page(s)

124-134
Abstract
Introduction: Food and beverage TV advertising contributes to childhood obesity. The current tax treatment of advertising as an ordinary business expense in the U.S. subsidizes marketing of nutritionally poor foods and beverages to children. This study models the effect of a national intervention that eliminates the tax subsidy of advertising nutritionally poor foods and beverages on TV to children aged 2-19 years. Methods: We adapted and modified the Assessing Cost Effectiveness framework and methods to create the Childhood Obesity Intervention Cost Effectiveness Study model to simulate the impact of the intervention over the 2015-2025 period for the U.S. population, including short-term effects on BMI and 10-year healthcare expenditures. We simulated uncertainty intervals (UIs) using probabilistic sensitivity analysis and discounted outcomes at 3% annually. Data were analyzed in 2014. Results: We estimated the intervention would reduce an aggregate 2.13 million (95% UI=0.83 million, 3.52 million) BMI units in the population and would cost $1.16 per BMI unit reduced (95% UI=$0.51, $2.63). From 2015 to 2025, the intervention would result in $352 million (95% UI=$138 million, $581 million) in healthcare cost savings and gain 4,538 (95% UI=1,752, 7,489) quality-adjusted life-years. Conclusions: Eliminating the tax subsidy of TV advertising costs for nutritionally poor foods and beverages advertised to children and adolescents would likely be a cost-saving strategy to reduce childhood obesity and related healthcare expenditures.

Defining Commercial Speech in the Context of Food Marketing

Pomeranz, J. L., & Adler, S.

Publication year

2015

Journal title

The Journal of law, medicine & ethics : a journal of the American Society of Law, Medicine & Ethics

Volume

43

Page(s)

40-43
Abstract
The regulation of food marketing is a strategy to address obesity. Marketers engage in both commercial speech, which receives some First Amendment protection, and non-speech activities that fall outside of the First Amendment's realm; no marketing practice constitutes fully protected speech. We explore these distinctions in the public health context.

Implications of the supplemental nutrition assistance program tax exemption on sugar-sweetened beverage taxes

Pomeranz, J. L.

Publication year

2015

Journal title

American Journal of Public Health

Volume

105

Issue

11

Page(s)

2191-2193
Abstract
US state and local governments are debating sugar-sweetened beverage excise taxes to support public health. A related issue is whether such taxes would apply to beverage purchases made by Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants. Federal law proscribes states from collecting excise taxes on SNAP purchases, but the law is confined to taxes at the point of sale. I provide legal analysis and recommendations for policymakers to enact taxes that are not subject to the SNAP tax exemption to potentially deter consumption by all consumers.

Large-scale automated analysis of news media: A novel computational method for obesity policy research

Hamad, R., Pomeranz, J. L., Siddiqi, A., & Basu, S.

Publication year

2015

Journal title

Obesity

Volume

23

Issue

2

Page(s)

296-300
Abstract
Objective Analyzing news media allows obesity policy researchers to understand popular conceptions about obesity, which is important for targeting health education and policies. A persistent dilemma is that investigators have to read and manually classify thousands of individual news articles to identify how obesity and obesity-related policy proposals may be described to the public in the media. A machine learning method called "automated content analysis" that permits researchers to train computers to "read" and classify massive volumes of documents was demonstrated. Methods 14,302 newspaper articles that mentioned the word "obesity" during 2011-2012 were identified. Four states that vary in obesity prevalence and policy (Alabama, California, New Jersey, and North Carolina) were examined. The reliability of an automated program to categorize the media's framing of obesity as an individual-level problem (e.g., diet) and/or an environmental-level problem (e.g., obesogenic environment) was tested. Results The automated program performed similarly to human coders. The proportion of articles with individual-level framing (27.7-31.0%) was higher than the proportion with neutral (18.0-22.1%) or environmental-level framing (16.0-16.4%) across all states and over the entire study period (P-

Contact

jlp284@nyu.edu +1 (212) 992-9928 715/719 Broadway New York, NY 10003