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News source may steer perceived solution to childhood obesity
Date:6/19/2011

Where you get your news could play a significant role in determining what you perceive as the best strategy for addressing childhood obesity. According to a study led by researchers from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, whether you believe the keys to combating childhood obesity are personal factors such as individual behavior changes or system-level factors such as marketing and the environment may depend on your primary news source. Researchers examined the news media's framing of childhood obesity and found that television news was more likely than other news sources to focus on individual behavior change as a solution, while newspapers were more likely to identify system-level solutions. The results are featured in the June 20, 2011, issue of Pediatrics.

"Overall, news stories consistently mentioned behavior change most often as a solution to the problem of childhood obesity, however, we identified noticeable differences in coverage by source. Newspaper articles more often mentioned changes affecting neighborhoods, schools and the food and beverage industry, while television coverage often focused on individual child or parent behavior-oriented solutions," said Colleen Barry, PhD, MPP, lead author of the study and an associate professor with the Bloomberg School's Department of Health Policy and Management. "News media coverage patterns indicated that by 2003, childhood obesity was firmly on the news media's agenda, remaining so until 2007."

Barry, along with colleagues from Sarah Lawrence College, Yale School of Public Health and the University of Minnesota, analyzed the content of a random sample of news stories on childhood obesity published in 18 national and regional news sources in the U.S. from 2000 to 2009. Researchers measured whether a news story mentioned any potential solutions to the problem of childhood obesity and coded individual behavior change as well as system-oriented solutions such as chan
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Contact: Natalie Wood-Wright
nwoodwri@jhsph.edu
410-614-6029
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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