Local News Media Framing of Obesity in the Context of a Sugar-Sweetened Beverage Reduction Media Campaign

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Abstract:

Objective: This study examined local news media’s framing of obesity preceding and surrounding the Philadelphia sugar-sweetened beverage reduction media campaign.

Methods: Using key search terms pertaining to obesity and sugary beverages, the authors searched the LexisNexis database and gathered local news stories (n = 167) that were aired or published between October, 2010 and March, 2011. They conducted a content analysis, coding for framing-related outcome measures (underlying factors, action steps, and contextual agents).

Results: Overall, the news media employed individual-level framing in the majority of stories when discussing obesity, both before and after the campaign launch. After the campaign launched, however, stories were significantly more likely to mention systemic-level contextual agents such as food companies (P = .008), beverage companies (P = .03), and champions or advocates (P = .001).

Conclusions and Implications: The researchers observed a shift in the local news media discourse toward more thematic framing of obesity, and suggest that public health officials consider the potential impact of news media frames on garnering public support for future policy implementations.

Authors