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 is the Policy Chair of the Health Law Section of the American Public Health Association. 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

Food
Health Disparities
Obesity
Public Health Law
Public Health Policy

Publications

Publications

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. L.

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.

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

Pomeranz, J. L., 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. L., 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.

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. L., 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. L., 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-

Legal strategies to address America’s processed food problem: from public health prevention to state and local preemption

Pomeranz, J.

Publication year

2015

Journal title

Duke Forum for Law & Social Change

Outstanding questions in first amendment law related to food labeling disclosure requirements for health

Pomeranz, J. L.

Publication year

2015

Journal title

Health Affairs

Volume

34

Issue

11

Page(s)

1986-1992
Abstract
The federal and state governments are increasingly focusing on food labeling as a method to support good health. Many such laws are opposed by the food industry and may be challenged in court, raising the question of what is legally feasible. This article analyzes outstanding questions in First Amendment law related to commercial disclosure requirements and conducts legal analysis and policy evaluation for three current policies. These include the Food and Drug Administration's draft regulation requiring an added sugar disclosure on the Nutrition Facts panel, California's proposed sugar-sweetened beverage safety warning label bill, and Vermont's law requiring labels of genetically engineered food to disclose this information. I recommend several methods for policy makers to enact food labeling laws within First Amendment parameters, including imposing factual commercial disclosure requirements, disclosing the government entity issuing a warning, collecting evidence, and identifying legitimate governmental interests.

Participatory workplace wellness programs: Reward, penalty, and regulatory conflict

Pomeranz, J. L.

Publication year

2015

Journal title

Milbank Quarterly

Volume

93

Issue

2

Page(s)

301-318
Abstract
Policy Points: Workplace wellness programs that provide incentives for completing a health risk assessment are a form of participatory programs. There are legal and ethical concerns when employers assess penalties for not completing a health risk assessment, raising questions about the voluntariness of such a program. The Departments of Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services' 2013 regulations for participatory programs and employers' current practices conflict with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's prevailing interpretation of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Context In keeping with the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Congress revised the law related to workplace wellness programs. In June 2013, the Departments of Treasury, Labor, and Health and Human Services passed the final regulations, updating their 2006 regulatory framework. Participatory programs that reward the completion of a health risk assessment are now the most common type of wellness program in the United States. However, legal and ethical concerns emerge when employers utilize incentives that raise questions about the voluntariness of such programs. At issue is that under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990, employers cannot require health-related inquiries and exams. Methods To analyze the current interpretation of the ADA, I conducted research on both LexisNexis and federal agency websites. The resulting article evaluates the differences in the language of Congress's enabling legislation and the federal departments' regulations and how they may conflict with the ADA. It also reviews the federal government's authority to address both the legal conflict and ethical concerns related to nonvoluntary participatory programs. Findings Employers' practices and the federal departments' regulations conflict with the current interpretation of the ADA by permitting employers to penalize employees who do not complete a health risk assessment. The departments' regulations may be interpreted as conflicting with Congress's legislation, which mentions penalties only for health-contingent wellness programs. Furthermore, the regulatory protections for employees applicable to health-contingent wellness programs do not apply to participatory programs. Conclusions Either Congress or the federal agencies should address the conflict among employers' practices, the wellness regulations, and the ADA and also consider additional protections for employees. Employers can avoid ethical and legal complications by offering voluntary programs with positive incentives.

Policies to promote healthy portion sizes for children

Pomeranz, J. L., & Miller, D. P.

Publication year

2015

Journal title

Appetite

Volume

88

Page(s)

50-58
Abstract
People of all ages are increasingly consuming larger portions of food. Governments worldwide are involved in the regulation of many aspects of the food supply; however, policies and programs related to serving sizes for children vary or are not clearly communicated. This paper reviews U.S. federal and state government recommendations, policies, and laws related to serving size for children and suggests directions for future policy objectives and outstanding research needed to support the enactment of laws based on the best science. Specifically, this paper reviews federal dietary recommendations and requirements for nutrition programs, packaged food labels and restaurant menus; state regulation of retail environments and child care settings; food companies' self-regulatory options; and directions for future research and policy initiatives. The paper concludes that there are many opportunities for government to revise its policies and programs to better support healthy portion sizes for children and create a more transparent information environment to assist caretakers to do the same.

Preemption and local food and agriculture policies

Neff, R., Pomeranz, J., & Rutkow, L. In Introduction to the US food system.

Publication year

2015

Public health and legal arguments in favor of a policy to cap the portion sizes of sugar-sweetened beverages

Roberto, C. A., & Pomeranz, J. L.

Publication year

2015

Journal title

American Journal of Public Health

Volume

105

Issue

11

Page(s)

2183-2190
Abstract
In 2012, the New York City Board of Health passed a regulation prohibiting the sale of sugar-sweetened beverages in containers above 16 ounces in the city's food service establishments. The beverage industry and various retailers sued the city to prevent enforcement of the law, arguing that the board had overstepped its authority. In June 2014, the state's highest court agreed and struck down the regulation. Here we report the results of a content analysis of the public testimony related to the case submitted to the New York City Department of Mental Health and Hygiene. We identified major arguments in support of and against the sugar-sweetened beverage portion limit policy. We offer legal and scientific arguments that challenge the major anti-policy arguments and contend that, although this policy was not implemented in New York City, it can be legally pursued by other legislatures.

Regulatory strategies for preventing obesity improving public health

Gill, T., Pomeranz, J., Roberto, C. A., & Soo, J. In Managing and Preventing Obesity.

Publication year

2015

Page(s)

277-799

States variations in the provision of bariatric surgery under affordable care act exchanges

Yang, Y. T., & Pomeranz, J. L.

Publication year

2015

Journal title

Surgery for Obesity and Related Diseases

Volume

11

Issue

3

Page(s)

715-720
Abstract
The Affordable Care Act (ACA) attempts to reduce healthcare costs while simultaneously providing the means for more Americans to obtain health insurance. Among other things, the ACA expands preventative care for obesity by mandating screening and counseling. However, it permits the states to determine whether to mandate treatments for inclusion in plans offered on the state-run exchanges. Bariatric surgery is a highly cost-effective treatment for obesity, yet states have taken varying stances on whether to mandate its inclusion. In light of the rising cost of obesity and resulting burden placed on the federal government and the economy, this article advocates a comparable mandatory inclusion of bariatric surgery in all plans offered on state and federally run exchanges.

The affordable care act and state coverage of clinical preventive health services for working-age adults

Pomeranz, J. L., & Yang, Y. T.

Publication year

2015

Journal title

Journal of Public Health Management and Practice

Volume

21

Issue

1

Page(s)

87-95
Abstract
Significant public health challenges facing the United States stem from preventable disease. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act dedicated substantial resources toward prevention. Among other reforms, the Affordable Care Act requires Medicaid and private health insurers to cover clinical preventive services for adults, pursuant to recommendations by the U.S. Preventive Service Task Force. This article examines the infrastructure upon which these recommendations are based, the requirements related to risk factors for leading causes of preventable disease in adults associated with tobacco and alcohol use, unhealthy diet, and inactivity, and coverage requirements for private plans and Medicaid. The article provides and assesses data comparing the health statuses of populations in and preventive services offered by states taking the Affordable Care Act Medicaid expansion versus those in states declining to expand coverage. The article suggests legislative and other methods to increase preventive clinical service requirements and notes outstanding issues for future research.

Contact

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