Magazines catering to African-Americans may be falling short in their efforts to educate readers about weight loss, a new University of Iowa study suggests.
African-American women's magazines are more likely to encourage fad diets and reliance on faith to lose weight, while mainstream women's magazines focus more on evidence-based diet strategies, according to the study by UI researcher Shelly Campo, published in a recent issue of the journal Health Communication.
"Three-quarters of African-American women are considered overweight or obese, compared to one-third of all U.S. women," said Campo, an assistant UI professor with appointments in community and behavioral health in the College of Public Health and communication studies in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. "African-American magazines tend to embrace a mission of advocacy for the African-American community, but if you're not covering evidence-based weight-loss strategies, you're not really helping your community."
Campo and co-author Teresa Mastin, an associate professor in the Department of Advertising, Public Relations, and Retailing at Michigan State University, analyzed 406 fitness and nutrition articles published between 1984 and 2004 in three major African-American women's magazines -- Ebony, Essence and Jet -- and three popular mainstream women's magazines -- Good Housekeeping, Better Homes and Gardens, and Ladies' Home Journal.
The magazines suggested many of the same weight-loss strategies, but mainstream magazines were twice as likely to suggest eating more whole grains and protein, smaller portions, and low-fat foods. Relying on God or faith was suggested by 1 in 10 weight-loss stories in the African-American magazines, but in almost no weight-loss stories in the mainstream magazines.
Fad diets were promoted as legitimate strategies in 15 percent of weight-loss stories in the African-American magazines, compared to only 5 percent in the main
|Contact: Nicole Riehl|
University of Iowa