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Fifty years of fat: news coverage of trends that predate obesity prevalence.

Davis B, Wansink B - BMC Public Health (2015)

Bottom Line: Fifty years of non-advertising articles in the New York Times (and 17 years for the London Times) are coded for the mention of less healthy (5 salty and 5 sweet snacks) and healthy (5 fruits and 5 vegetables) food items by year and then associated with annual obesity prevalence in subsequent years.Time-series generalized linear models test whether food-related mentions predate or postdate obesity prevalence in each country.Similar results are found for the United Kingdom and The London Times.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Marketing at the Orfalea College of Business at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Grand Ave, 93407, San Luis Obispo, CA, USA. bdavis39@calpoly.edu.

ABSTRACT

Background: Obesity prevalence has risen in fifty years. While people generally expect media mentions of health risks like obesity prevalence to follow health risk trends, food consumption trends may precede obesity prevalence trends. Therefore, this research investigates whether media mentions of food predate obesity prevalence.

Methods: Fifty years of non-advertising articles in the New York Times (and 17 years for the London Times) are coded for the mention of less healthy (5 salty and 5 sweet snacks) and healthy (5 fruits and 5 vegetables) food items by year and then associated with annual obesity prevalence in subsequent years. Time-series generalized linear models test whether food-related mentions predate or postdate obesity prevalence in each country.

Results: United States obesity prevalence is positively associated with New York Times mentions of sweet snacks (b = 55.2, CI = 42.4 to 68.1, p = .000) and negatively associated with mentions of fruits (b = -71.28, CI -91.5 to -51.1, p = .000) and vegetables (b = -13.6, CI = -17.5 to -9.6, p = .000). Similar results are found for the United Kingdom and The London Times. Importantly, the "obesity followed mentions" models are stronger than the "obesity preceded mentions" models.

Conclusions: It may be possible to estimate a nation's future obesity prevalence (e.g., three years from now) based on how frequently national media mention sweet snacks (positively related) and vegetables or fruits (negatively related) today. This may provide public health officials and epidemiologists with new tools to more quickly assess the effectiveness of current obesity interventions based on what is mentioned in the media today.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus

Number of New York Times articles mentioning sweet or salty snacks
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Fig2: Number of New York Times articles mentioning sweet or salty snacks

Mentions: Articles mentioning vegetables declined by 46 %, and articles mentioning fruits, salty snacks, and sweet snacks increased (92 %, 417 %, and 310 %) over the last 50 years in the New York Times (Figs. 1 and 2). Actual US obesity prevalence rose from 13.4 % to 33.8 % over fifty years. Tables 1 and 2 show article US and UK counts respectively (in addition to their percentage of the number of total articles) for the individual sweet and salty snack terms reported at ten-year snapshots over five decades, in order to illustrate simple, descriptive trends.Fig. 1


Fifty years of fat: news coverage of trends that predate obesity prevalence.

Davis B, Wansink B - BMC Public Health (2015)

Number of New York Times articles mentioning sweet or salty snacks
© Copyright Policy - open-access
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License 1 - License 2
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4496881&req=5

Fig2: Number of New York Times articles mentioning sweet or salty snacks
Mentions: Articles mentioning vegetables declined by 46 %, and articles mentioning fruits, salty snacks, and sweet snacks increased (92 %, 417 %, and 310 %) over the last 50 years in the New York Times (Figs. 1 and 2). Actual US obesity prevalence rose from 13.4 % to 33.8 % over fifty years. Tables 1 and 2 show article US and UK counts respectively (in addition to their percentage of the number of total articles) for the individual sweet and salty snack terms reported at ten-year snapshots over five decades, in order to illustrate simple, descriptive trends.Fig. 1

Bottom Line: Fifty years of non-advertising articles in the New York Times (and 17 years for the London Times) are coded for the mention of less healthy (5 salty and 5 sweet snacks) and healthy (5 fruits and 5 vegetables) food items by year and then associated with annual obesity prevalence in subsequent years.Time-series generalized linear models test whether food-related mentions predate or postdate obesity prevalence in each country.Similar results are found for the United Kingdom and The London Times.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Marketing at the Orfalea College of Business at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Grand Ave, 93407, San Luis Obispo, CA, USA. bdavis39@calpoly.edu.

ABSTRACT

Background: Obesity prevalence has risen in fifty years. While people generally expect media mentions of health risks like obesity prevalence to follow health risk trends, food consumption trends may precede obesity prevalence trends. Therefore, this research investigates whether media mentions of food predate obesity prevalence.

Methods: Fifty years of non-advertising articles in the New York Times (and 17 years for the London Times) are coded for the mention of less healthy (5 salty and 5 sweet snacks) and healthy (5 fruits and 5 vegetables) food items by year and then associated with annual obesity prevalence in subsequent years. Time-series generalized linear models test whether food-related mentions predate or postdate obesity prevalence in each country.

Results: United States obesity prevalence is positively associated with New York Times mentions of sweet snacks (b = 55.2, CI = 42.4 to 68.1, p = .000) and negatively associated with mentions of fruits (b = -71.28, CI -91.5 to -51.1, p = .000) and vegetables (b = -13.6, CI = -17.5 to -9.6, p = .000). Similar results are found for the United Kingdom and The London Times. Importantly, the "obesity followed mentions" models are stronger than the "obesity preceded mentions" models.

Conclusions: It may be possible to estimate a nation's future obesity prevalence (e.g., three years from now) based on how frequently national media mention sweet snacks (positively related) and vegetables or fruits (negatively related) today. This may provide public health officials and epidemiologists with new tools to more quickly assess the effectiveness of current obesity interventions based on what is mentioned in the media today.

No MeSH data available.


Related in: MedlinePlus