Entries in media coverage (1)


Study Investigates Media Coverage of Childhood Obesity

Christopher Robbins/Digital Vision(BALTIMORE) -- The public’s perception of the problem of childhood obesity may be influenced by the media coverage of the issue, particularly when the question involves strategies for combating the problem.

A study conducted by researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health analyzed a random sample of childhood obesity news stories from 18 national and regional news sources, including print and broadcast media, from 2000 to 2009. The findings of that study, which were published in Pediatrics, show that coverage of the issue was high and stable from 2003 and 2007, but decreased in the last two years of the study period.

Authors of the study say that framing of the stories changed over time, with obesity initially being frequently linked to the food and beverage industry, but then those associations markedly decreased.

Newspapers were found more likely to identify system-level solutions such as changes that affect neighborhoods, schools, and the food and beverage industry (i.e. banning sodas in schools), while television news tended to focus more on behavioral change as a solution (i.e. getting more exercise).

This led to the authors of the study raising a concern about possible influence of advertising budgets on news content.

Researchers found that in 2008, 15.2 percent of all national network TV advertising expenditures were paid for by the food industry, while only 2.4 percent of advertising expenditures in national and local newspapers.

The study’s authors say it's important to investigate the role of interest groups in shaping news content on this topic and to monitor how news framing affects public perceptions about how best to combat the problem of childhood obesity.

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