In recent years, increased transparency into the nutritional value of our food has enabled consumers to make more informed decisions on their own eating habits, knowing that their choices directly correlate with their overall health. Leaders behind this movement are hopeful that initiatives such as the new laws on food labeling that require calorie counts, fats, and sodium levels to be included on menus will encourage healthier selections. However, the effectiveness of these or other health education initiatives has often been criticized as unsustainable or ineffective, especially within high poverty communities and among youth.
In 2005, frustrated by the lack of health information in these high-need areas, Dr. Olajide Williams, then a doctor at Harlem Hospital Center, proposed an innovative technique to promote health education in these at-risk communities. His big idea – to communicate important health information through a catchy rap song. Three years later in 2008 he founded Hip Hop Public Health, a non-profit organization dedicated to fostering positive health behavior change through the power of hip-hop music. Their methods are unique, and the premise is simple – by providing youth with information on health and nutrition through a catchy medium, they empower them to make healthier choices, and help reduce preventable poor health conditions and childhood obesity. The organization has recruited the talents of many artists including Doug E. Fresh, Chuck D and DMC. A full library of health-related hip-hop tracks now lives on the organization’s website for easy access by students all across the globe.