Mainstream magazines offered more strategies per article than African-American magazines. And, while mainstream magazines increased fitness and nutrition coverage during the second decade as the severity of the obesity epidemic unfolded, African-American magazines did not.
"The study clearly points to a need for public-health advocates and advocates of the African-American community to push their media to increase coverage of overweight and obesity health issues," Campo said.
The research is a companion study to previous work Mastin and Campo published in the Howard Journal of Communications in Oct. 2006. The first study showed that food and nonalcoholic beverage ads outnumbered fitness and nutrition articles 16 to 1 in Ebony, Essence and Jet between 1984 and 2004. The 500 ads were primarily for foods high in calories but low in nutritional value, Campo said.
In the new paper, Campo and Mastin note that both types of magazines tend to place responsibility for weight loss on the individual, rather than examining environmental and economic factors that make weight loss difficult. More than 83 percent of strategies focused on behavior changes, while less than 7 percent focused on environment. For example, magazines recommended eating well and staying active, but rarely addressed issues like availability and cost of healthy food, recreational opportunities in communities, or existence of school- or work-based fitness programs.
"Both genres are highly guilty of over-reliance on individual strategies," Campo said. "We blame individuals too much for circumstances that are not entirely within their control. We know people living in unsafe neighborhoods are much less likely to exercise. And fast food is c
|Contact: Nicole Riehl|
University of Iowa