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Nutrition in Food Advertising: Content Analysis of a Canadian Women’s Magazine, Article Review Example

Pages: 3

Words: 770

Article Review

Content Analysis

The four articles in question all provide content analysis approaches to the intersection between food and media advertising. What becomes apparent in these analyses is that information about nutrition brought about through scientific discourse is not being communicated to the public.

Hence, in “Food Advertising in the Age of Obesity: Content Analysis of Food Advertising on General Market and African American Television”, Henderson and Kelly take the basic food and media couplet to then provide a content analysis in terms of obesity and media directed towards an African-American audience. In this case, the authors content analysis specifically notes the complicity between media and obesity, in so far as despite various concerns that exist in public discourse concerning the responsibility to advertised healthy food choices, methodology notes the proliferation of unhealthy foods, and furthermore, that these unhealthy foods are directly targeting an African-American populace. (Henderson & Kelly, 194)The results show that media both shirks any ethical responsibility to advertise responsibly, arguably radicalizing this same irresponsibility by targeting specific segments of the population for such unhealthy products.

Story and Faulkner (1990) note a similar disregard for health in their study of prime time television as a whole, noting that an explicit disregard for government issued dietary health guidelines is present in television advertising. (738) Their quantitative analysis therefore provides clear empirical proof to show the preponderance of such advertising in American television. Such advertising, however, only reveals its truly negative effects when it is combined with an understanding of health legislation. Accordingly, there is a fundamental disconnect between discourses on health and media discourses in American society.

Barr’s (1989) thorough content analysis, based upon a time period covering approximately sixty years, is also disturbing in light of the previous analyses, to the extent that she suggests that the presentation of nutritional information regarding food and the promotion of healthy life style choices in the media has actually decreased over time, through an analysis of a singular women’s lifestyle magazine over a fifty year period. When comparing this perceived phenomenon to what appears to be a contrasting awareness of the importance of nutrition over this same time period – an awareness influenced by both the growth of scientific discourses on nutrition and the dissemination of this same information to the public – such awareness is nevertheless still outnumbered by unhealthy nutritional advertisements. Again, there appears to be a fundamental rupture between discourses on nutrition and communication in the mainstream media concerning food.

The systematic nature of this problem is furthermore underscored in the content analysis executed by Powell, Szczypka, Chaloupka and Braunschweig (2007), concluding that the “overwhelming majority of food-proudct advertisements seen on television by American children and adolescents are of poor nutritional content.” (576) The failure to promote healthy food choices as demonstrated in the content analysis of advertisement directed towards children evinces a clear ethical problem in the American media, which refuses to incorporate scientific research on nutrition to even the youngest members of the population. This suggests that the food advertising media above all wishes to maintain the status quo, hoping to communicate the same messages about malnutrition to the younger population. The content analysis in this case leads an especially damning conclusion about media as a whole, as advertising has not found any motivation to communicate healthy life style choices, indeed rather encouraging the opposite of the latter.

In all four articles, therefore, there is a rift between scientific data about nutrition and what is being communicated about food in the popular media. Content analysis serves as a legitimate methodological tool in this context, in as much as it provides an accurate quantitative account without any qualitative interpretation about what is being presented to the public in a wide range of demographic groups. Content analysis thus provides a viable empirical foundation upon which to base critiques of the media in this context, and thereafter develop possible solutions.

Works Cited

Barr, Susan L. “Nutrition in Food Advertising: Content Analysis of a Canadian Women’s Magazine, 1928-1986”. Society for Nutrition and Education. Vol. 21, No. 2. pp. 64-72.

Henderson, Vani R. and Kelly, Bridget. “Food Advertising in the Age of Obesity: Content Analysis of Food Advertising on General Market and African American

Television”, Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, Volume 37, Number 4, July-August 2005. pp. 191-196.

Powell, Lisa M., Szczpka, Glen, Chaloupka, Frank J. and Braunschweig, Carol L. “Advertisements Seen by Children and Adolescents in the United States.” Pediatrics. Volume 120, Number 3, September 2007. pp. 576-583.

Story, Mary and Faulkner, Patricia. “The Prime Time Diet: A Content Analysis of Eating Behavior and Food Messages in Television Program Content and Commercials.” AJPH, June 1990, Vol. 80, No. 6. pp. 738-740.

 

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