Nadia Dawson

Photo of Nadia Dawson

Account Supervisor
Washington, DC
Posts: 4

Nadia is a former Account Supervisor and Digital Strategist at Ogilvy PR.

Obesity Rate Declining Among Low-Income Preschoolers

Aug 08

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) delivered good news on Tuesday—obesity among low-income preschoolers declined from 2008 to 2011 in 19 of 43 states and territories studied. California, Georgia, Florida, Mississippi, New Mexico, and New York are among the states that are showing decreases.

This month’s CDC Vital Signs serves as a reminder of how big the childhood obesity problem is, noting that about 1 in 8 preschoolers in the United States is obese, and the rates are even higher among black and Hispanic children. CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden credits improvements to the Federal Government’s Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) and community efforts to increase nutrition and physical activity as factors contributing to the declining obesity rate.

Read about the CDC study in its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, and see Cathy Payne and Michelle Healy’s USA TODAY article for a look at three trends—physical activity programs, an increase in breastfeeding, and an improved WIC program—that are helping to decrease childhood obesity.

Make Mobile Technologies for Behavior Change a Priority in 2013

Jan 03

Many people are kicking off the new year with resolutions to improve their health by adopting new behaviors. While the desire to change one’s behavior may be strong at the beginning of the year, it often wanes as time goes by. This drop-off is common in the behavior change cycle, creating a challenge for social marketers to develop tools to support and sustain behavior change. With this challenge in mind, I encourage you in 2013 to think about ways to use mobile technologies, such as the mobile web, applications, and text messaging, to support long-term health behavior change. If you need rationale for taking this step, just look at the compelling findings from Pew Internet & American Life Project’s Mobile Health 2012 report:

  • 85% of U.S. adults own a cell phone, and of those, 53% own smartphones
  • 31% of cell phone owners have used their phone to look for health information compared to 17% two years ago
  • Cell phone owners who are Latino, African American, between the ages of 18-49, or hold a college degree are more likely than others to gather health information on their phones
  • 80% of cell phone owners send and receive text messages, but only 9% receive text updates or alerts about health or medical issues
  • 52% of smartphone owners gather health information on their phones compared with 6% of non-smartphone owners
  • 19% of smartphone owners have at least one health app on their phone, with exercise, diet, and weight apps being the most popular types

Can mobile technologies coupled with research-based approaches to behavior change facilitate sustained change? I believe the combination offers great potential given the reach afforded by mobile technologies and people’s increasing reliance on their mobile phone, and I hope to see more social marketers, and particularly the Federal Government, take advantage of mobile in 2013.

If you’re ready to add mobile to your arsenal of tools, here are two resources you may find helpful:

Is mobile a priority for you this year? Are you currently working on a mobile project designed to change behavior? Let us know in the comments.

Smokers in England Encouraged to Quit for the New Year

Jan 10

It’s a new year, a time when people decide to leave behind unhealthy habits and to make positive changes in their lives. For people in England who want to quit smoking, there’s help. Smokers on the National Health Service (NHS), England’s publicly funded healthcare system, can pick up a free Quit Kit at pharmacies across the country or order one online. Developed with help from experts, smokers, and former smokers, the new and improved Quit Kit includes coupons for a free 1-week supply of nicotine patches, as well as other useful tools to help smokers kick the habit.

NHS Smokefree Quit Kit

Tackling one of the biggest public health challenges is no easy task. The current 172 parties to the World Health Organization Framework Convention on Tobacco Control have their work cut out for them. I’m happy to see that England has made smoking cessation a priority, and I’m curious to see how much of an impact its efforts will have on smokers. On the other hand, China has several hurdles to overcome, including choosing to promote smoking cessation when tobacco generates significant revenues for the country.

Do you think the new year rollout of the Quit Kit will make a dent among the millions of smokers in England? What smoking cessation efforts across the globe do you find interesting and innovative?

To learn more about the Quit Kit, visit the NHS Smokefree website.

Best Practices for Federal Government Challenges and Contests

Nov 09

As the Federal Government increases its use of challenges and contests to engage citizens in problem solving, Federal employees and contractors are seeking guidance on best practices. A briefing I attended yesterday, hosted by the Ad Council, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA), and Google, brought together a stellar panel to discuss the topic. The panel included Brandon Kessler from ChallengePost, Jackie Haven from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion, Dr. Jeff Davis from the NASA Johnson Space Center, and Read Holman from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, with moderator Bev Godwin from the GSA Center for New Media and Citizen Engagement.

Through a challenge or contest, Federal agencies can engage a broad community and tap into a wealth of outside knowledge and creativity. Sounds exciting, but what do you need to know to get started? These key takeaways from the briefing will get you on your way:

Dedicate resources. To be successful, challenges require dedicated resources, including staff time. Establish a team of challenge leads if you regularly do challenges plus staff from IT, legal and procurement, public affairs for communications, and human resources to advise on awards. Day-to-day challenge management is a good assignment for an intern, providing they have support from a panel of experts.

Establish rules, they’re important. By establishing rules for your challenges, you can address any issues that may arise. For example, with a video challenge, your rules may address what’s inappropriate, use of copyrighted materials, permission requirements for minors and adults appearing in submitted videos, and who’s eligible to enter your challenge. Consult your legal team when developing rules, and look at other agencies’ challenge rules to see what they have done.

Choose appropriate prizes. People aren’t only motivated by monetary rewards. If your challenge is exciting, people will participate. Tough technical challenges may warrant large cash prizes, as participants may have to invest their own resources or hand over intellectual property. For less technical challenges, nonmonetary rewards, such as tech prizes, recognition, exposure, certificates, and meetings with key figures, may be a better incentive to get people to participate.

Set a realistic timeline. Consider how long it will take participants to solve your problem. A 30-day entry period may work for an ideation challenge and 90 days for a technical challenge. Include in your timeframe enough time to spread the word about your challenge and to judge entries, as most entries will likely come in at the last minute.

Showcase your challenge on You can run a challenge or contest on any platform, but by posting your challenge on, you can take advantage of added functionality, including judging capabilities.

Promote your challenge! If nobody knows about your challenge, how are they going to participate? Make sure you spread the word online and offline.

For additional guidance on developing and implementing challenges and contests, visit’s Innovation Challenges & Contests page, and take a look at government challenges on