A content analysis of the nutrition information in articles and adverts in women’s magazines.
Bohadana, Ruti Thalia
Cardiff Metropolitan University
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Background: Obesity is at epidemic level in the UK with 25% of adults estimated to be obese in 2013 (HSE, 2014). Many people look to the media for health and nutrition information (Hill, 2006). It has been found that the main source of health information in the UK is the mass media (Picard, Yeo, and Fielden, 2011). But there is concerns over the quality of the advice offered (Cooper et al., 2011). While studies have analysed the nutritional content of magazine diets & adverts separately. Articles and adverts have not been directly compared to each other and the healthy eating guidelines. This study aimed to look at the nutritional information in articles and adverts in women’s magazines and how the information compares to national nutrition guidelines of the eatwell guide (Public Health England, 2016). A snapshot of the nutrition information comparing older women’s magazines, younger women’s magazines and health and fitness magazines. Methods: The two bestselling monthly magazines for older women, younger women, health & fitness categories using the national readership survey (2016). Magazines were purchased in April 2017 and were either April, May or Spring editions. Inclusion criteria were defined as monthly magazine aimed at women in the UK containing nutrition information. Exclusion criteria were defined as supermarket magazines, fashion magazines, home magazines, food magazines and parenting magazines. All articles and adverts containing reference to food were analysed. Exclusion criteria were defined as reference to baby or childrens food, vitamin supplements, talking about a diet plan or non specific about the food. Each article or advert was compared to the Eatwell guides food classification system and the traffic light system and the source of the article was noted. Health claims analysed as to whether they were evidence based or not and were compared to identify differences in themes between the magazine genres. Descriptive statistics were used to present the data. Ethical approval was gained from Cardiff Metropolitan University Healthcare and Food Ethics Panel. Results: Six magazines were analysed containing a total of 50 food articles and 31 food adverts. Fruit and vegetables were referenced most frequently (31%) almost meeting the Eatwell guide recommendations (39%). Carbohydrates were underrepresented (18%) compared to recommendations (37%). Protein was overrepresented (25%0 compared with guidelines (12%). Dairy and oils and spreads were represented in line with the guidelines (4%, 2%) compared with guidelines (8%, 1%). Foods high in fat sugar and salt were overrepresented (21%) compared with guidelines (0%). Articles gave a closer representation to the guidelines than adverts but still failed to meet the governments recommendations. Discussion: The skewed representation of a balanced diet in the media leads the public to believe that the diet portrayed is ‘normal’ and contradicts the recommendations outlined in public health strategies to follow a balanced diet and take regular exercise. Therefore public health strategies for obesity prevention are undermined. Conclusion: The magazine content did not meet the Eatwell Guide recommendations in articles, adverts or and of the magazine genres sampled. This highlights the need for dietitians to promote the profession and increase involvement in the provision of nutrition information in the media.
BSc (Hons) Human Nuturition and Dietetics (Sandwich)
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