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eMPH Alumni at the OR Public Health Annual (OPHA) Conference, OCT 2011

eMPH Alumni at the OR Public Health Annual (OPHA) Conference, OCT 2011

The October 2011 Oregon Public Health Annual Conference was well-attended by eMPH alumni and students. Sami Jarrah, a 2011 graduate, gave a presentation of his thesis project, a descriptive pilot study examining the relative importance of empirical evidence among Oregon legislators during their consideration of House Bill 2726, a 2009 menu labeling law. The objective of Jarrah's research was "to understand the factors and sources of empirical evidence legislators consider when deciding how to vote on public health policies."

The crowd was very interested to learn that the most common reasons for voting in favor of the bill were based on consumers' right to know and the possibility that menu labeling may decrease the incidence of obesity. Sami reported that Democrats voted against the bill because of insufficient evidence, excessive cost, or overly ambitious legislation, while Republicans voted against it from their belief that the government should not influence an individual's food choices nor the operations of restaurant owners. Two concurrent presentations provided additional background and strategies for how to approach Democratic and Republican legislators to get their votes.

Sami Jarrah, a 2011 eMPH graduate, is a strategy and policy analysis manager in the Multnomah County Health Department, Portland, Oregon.