Solutions to combat childhood obesity

Washington: A Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health study revealed that the perceived solutions to treating childhood obesity might be impacted by the news source.

Whether it is personal factors such as individual behavior changes or system-level factors such as marketing and the environment, the belief gets steered by the primary news source, researchers say.

The examination of news media``s framing of childhood obesity showed that television news was more likely than other news source to focus on individual behavior change as a solution.

On the other hand, newspapers were more likely to identify system-level solutions.

“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,” said Colleen Barry, an associate professor with the Bloomberg School``s Department of Health Policy and Management.

“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,” she added.

A ten-year study revealed that the mention of solutions involving restrictions on the food and beverage industry such as food and beverage taxes, vending machine restrictions and advertising regulations rose substantially in the early years of the study, but declined sharply in recent years.

The most common individual-level solutions mentioned were behavior change related to diet (45pc), such as parents serving their children more fruits and vegetables, and exercise (36pc), such as making more time for family-oriented physical activities.

The findings are featured in the current issue of journal Pediatrics.


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